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Full text of "CMH Pub 5-3 Guadalcanal: The First Offensive"

UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II 



The War in the Pacific 

GUADALCANAL: 
THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



John Miller, jr. 




CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY 
UNITED STATES ARMY 
WASHINGTON, D.C., 1995 



Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 50-13988 



First Printed 1949— CMH Pub 5-3 



For sale by the Superintendent of Documents. U.S. Government Priming Office 
Washington. D C. 20402 



... to Those Who Served 



UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II 



Kent Roberts Greenfield, General Editor 



Advisory Committee 



James P. Baxter 
President, Williams College 

Henry S. Commager 
Columbia University 

Douglas S. Freeman 
Richmond News Leader 

Pendleton Herring 
Social Science Research Council 

John D. Hicks 
University of California 



William T. Hutchinson 
University of Chicago 

S. L. A. Marshall 
Detroit News 

E. Dwight Salmon 
Amherst College 

Col. Thomas D. Stamps 
United States Military Academy 

Charles H. Taylor 
Harvard University 



Walter L. Wright 
Princeton University 



Historical Division, SSUSA 
Maj. Gen. Harry J. Malony, Chief 



Chief Historian 

Chief, World War II Group 

Editor-in-Chief 

Chief Cartographer 



Kent Roberts Greenfield 
Col. Allison R. Hartman 
Hugh Corbett 
Wsevolod Aglaimoff 



v 



Foreword 



In publishing the history of combat operations the Department of the Army 
has three objectives. The first is to provide the Army itself with an accurate and 
timely account of its varied activities in directing, organizing, and employing its 
forces for the conduct of war — an account which will be available to the service 
schools and to individual members of the Armed Services who wish to extend 
their professional reading. The second objective is to offer the thoughtful citi- 
zen material for a better understanding of the basic problems of war and the 
manner in which these problems were met, thus augmenting his understanding 
of national security. The third objective is to accord a well-earned recognition 
to the devoted work and grim sacrifices of those who served. 

No claim is made that the series constitutes a final history. Most of the 
material has been gathered from the observations and research of trained his- 
torians who, while in uniform, were attached to the headquarters of larger units 
engaged in the campaigns about which the histories are written. These his- 
torians made use of all official records, of interviews with both officers and en- 
listed men who took part in the action, and of captured enemy records. They 
have scrupulously weighed the evidence in accordance with the Chief of Staff's 
directive that Army histories must present a full and factual account, thor- 
oughly documented and completely objective. The authors of the volumes in 
the series were carefully selected from among trained civilian historians; many 
of them were formerly historical officers in the wartime Army. They are under 
no restrictions in their work except those imposed by the requirements of na- 
tional security and by the standards of historical scholarship. 

The level on which the volumes are written necessarily varies. In accounts 
of campaigns during which many large units moved rapidly over extensive 
areas, detailed consideration of small-unit action is not practicable. Such a 
volume as Guadalcanal, on the other hand, recounts the activities of a compara- 
tively small number of units operating in a restricted area; it has thus been pos- 
sible to carry the narrative down to the level of companies, platoons, and even 

vii 



individuals. Since this is a field recognized as of great importance but one in 
which available literature is very meager, the present volume adds material 
which should prove of much value to prospective commanders of lower units. 

The Department of the Army gratefully acknowledges the co-operation of 
the U. S. Navy, including the U. S. Marine Corps, and the U. S, Air Force in 
making available such of their records and research facilities as were pertinent 
to the preparation of this volume. 



Washington, D. C. 
3 August 1948 



HARRY J. MALONY 
Maj.Gen,, U. S. A. 
Chief, Historical Division 



viii 



Preface 



"The successes of the South Pacific Force" wrote Admiral Halsey in 1944, 
"were not the achievements of separate services or individuals but the result of 
whole-hearted subordination of self-interest by all in order that one successful 
'fighting team' could be created."* The history of any South Pacific campaign 
must deal with this "fighting team," with all United States and Allied services. 
The victory on Guadalcanal can be understood only by an appreciation of the 
contribution of each service. No one service won the battle. The most decisive 
engagement of the campaign was the air and naval Battle of Guadalcanal in 
mid-November 1942, an engagement in which neither Army nor Marine Corps 
ground troops took any direct part. 

This volume attempts to show the contribution of all services to the first 
victory on the long road to Tokyo. It does not describe all ground, air, and 
naval operations in detail but it does attempt, by summary when necessary, to 
show the relationship between air, ground, and surface forces in modern war- 
fare, 

Guadalcanal: The First Offensive rests upon somewhat different sources 
from most other volumes in the Pacific series of U. S. ARMY IN WORLD 
WAR II. The War Department's historical program had not yet been estab- 
lished in August 1942 when the Solomon Islands were invaded by the Allies. 
No historians accompanied the Marine or Army divisions to Guadalcanal with 
the mission of preparing thorough and detailed histories of the campaign. The 
interviews of whole companies and critiques of actions that were conducted by 
Army and Marine historians in later campaigns were never conducted on Gua- 
dalcanal. Interviews with individual officers and men were conducted by thea- 
ter and War Department historians long after the fighting was over, but by 
that time memory was none too fresh. As a result it has not been possible to 
analyze the actions of small units on Guadalcanal as completely as in other 
volumes in the Pacific series. 

* Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., Narrative Account of the South Pacific Campaign (September 1944), 
p. 14. 

ix 



The official records for the Guadalcanal campaign, upon which this volume 
is based, are often sparse and inadequate. The Army units which served on the 
island were usually sent there in piecemeal fashion, one regiment or battalion at 
a time. Army and Marine staff procedures on Guadalcanal were of necessity 
extremely simple and informal. Most staff business was conducted orally, for 
the area held by American troops was so small that all headquarters were in 
close proximity, obviating the immediate necessity for extensive records. Most 
staff officers, working in headquarters which were seriously undermanned, 
often held dual positions and carried a tremendous burden of work. They had 
neither the time nor the facilities to maintain extensive files. In consequence, 
full Army divisional records do not exist. Headquarters, U. S. Army Forces in 
the South Pacific Area (USAFISPA), which had just been activated when the 
first landings were made in Guadalcanal, also suffered from a chronic shortage 
of staff officers and clerks. Its own records for the period, therefore, are not 
complete, and it never received full records from the units on Guadalcanal. 

Enemy records, though now fairly extensive, are by no means complete. 
It is expected that new information will continue to come to light. 

A history of the Guadalcanal campaign was first begun in 1944, more than 
a year after its close, by Maj. Frederick P. Todd and Capt. Louis Morton, then 
members of the Historical Section, USAFISPA. A short manuscript dealing 
with ground, air, and surface action was prepared first. A more detailed study 
was begun later in 1944, but the lack of records, coupled with the necessity for 
preparing other operational histories and an administrative history of 
USAFISPA, prevented its completion. Both the short manuscript and the in- 
complete longer manuscript were forwarded to the Historical Division of the 
War Department. 

Preparation of this volume was begun after the conclusion of hostilities. 
By 1946 virtually all the existing records of Army units had been filed in the 
Adjutant General's office; records of the Joint and Combined Chiefs of Staff, 
of the Operations Division, WDGS, and of the Navy had been opened to 
War Department historians. A wider range of sources was available to me than 
had been available to the South Pacific or earlier War Department historians. 

My debts of gratitude are too numerous to make it possible for me to ex- 
press my thanks publicly to every person who has assisted in the preparation of 
this volume. Some contributions, however, have been so important that they 
merit particular mention. 



x 



To Dr. Louis Morton, now Chief of the Pacific Section of the Historical 
Division, under whose immediate direction this book was written, are due my 
thanks for his careful reading of every chapter, and for his sound counsel on 
the many problems of organization and content presented by such a volume. 
Dr. Kent Roberts Greenfield, Chief Historian of the Department of the Army, 
was a strong support during the period of preparation of the volume and 
offered many valuable suggestions which were adopted. Maj. Gen. Harry J. 
Malony, Chief of the Historical Division, and Lt. Col. Allen F. Clark, Jr., 
Executive Officer, both showed a keen appreciation of the problems of the his- 
torian, and made it possible to utilize all the sources in the Department of Na- 
tional Defense bearing on the subject. 

The manuscript was prepared for publication under the direction of Col. 
Allison R. Hartman, Chief of the World War II Group of the Historical Divi- 
sion, assisted by Miss Edith M. Poole and Miss Grace T. Waibel. Mr. Wsevolod 
AglaimofT, Chief Cartographer of the Historical Division, drew the layouts 
for the excellent maps, all prepared under his supervision, which appear in this 
volume, Capt. Robert L. Bodell selected the photographs from Army, Navy, 
Marine Corps, and Air Force files. Mr. George R. Powell and Mrs. Miriam J. 
Meyer assisted in solving statistical problems, and prepared the strength table on 
page 219; Maj. Charles F. Byars prepared the list of Army units serving in the 
Guadalcanal campaign which appears in the Appendix. Mr. W. Brooks Phillips 
prepared the index. Final editing was the responsibility of Mr. Hugh Corbett, 
Editor-in-Chief of the Historical Division. 

The documents in the files of the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps 
bearing on the Guadalcanal campaign are numerous and widely diffused. The 
generous assistance of other historians and archivists in locating these docu- 
ments made possible the completion of the volume in slightly over two years. 
The General Reference Section of the Historical Division, under the direction 
of Mr. Israel Wice, procured for me many documents from the files of all the 
armed forces. Miss Alice M. Miller, Maj. Darrie H. Richards, and Mr. Joseph B. 
Russell furnished me with the documents that explain the strategic direction 
of the Pacific War. Miss Thelma K. Yarborough, Miss Margaret Emerson, and 
Miss Clyde Hillyer provided the bulk of the sources of information on the oper- 
ations of Army units on Guadalcanal Capt, John W. McElroy, USNR, and 
Miss Loretta I. MacCrindle of the Office of Naval Records and Library guided 
me to the naval documents relating to the Guadalcanal campaign. Lt. Col 



xi 



Robert D. Heinl, Jr., USMC, Mr. John L. Zimmerman and Mr. Joel D. Thacker 
of the Historical Section, Division of Public Information, Headquarters, U. S. 
Marine Corps, furnished me with a great deal of information on Marine Corps 
operations and units, and made Marine Corps records available to me. 

I wish also to express my gratitude to Whittlesey House for permission to 
quote from Admiral Halsey's Story. 

To Miss Martha J. Daniel, Mrs. Wynona H. Haydon, Miss Ann Pasternack, 
and Mrs. Laura M, Whitmire are due my thanks for their careful typing of the 
manuscript. 

Responsibility for the deficiencies of this book is entirely mine. 

Washington, D. C. 

3 August 1948 JOHN MILLER, JR. 



xii 



Contents 

Chapter Page 

I. THE STRATEGIC DECISION 1 

Allied Organization and Missions in the Pacific Theater 1 

Japanese Advances 3 

The Problem of Command and Strategy 8 

The Decision 16 

II. PLANS FOR INVASION 22 

Air and Naval Plans 25 

Landing Force Plans 40 

Final Preparations 54 

III. THE INVASION 59 

The Approach 59 

The Northern Attac\ 61 

The Invasion of Guadalcanal 67 

Unloading 75 

The Enemy Strides Bac\ 78 

IV. CONSOLIDATING THE BEACHHEAD 82 

Construction and Defense of the Airfield 83 

Action on the Ilu River 90 

The Battle of the Eastern Solomons 99 

Supply 101 

V. INCREASING AIR AND GROUND ACTION 105 

Air Power and Supply 105 

The Counter offensive, 12-14 September 110 

Reinforcements 119 

Actions on the Matani\au 125 

VI. THE OCTOBER COUNTEROFFENSIVE 135 

Japanese Strategy 137 

The U. S. Situation 139 

Air and Naval Preparations 146 

The Ground Offensive 152 

The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands 167 

xiii 



Chapter Page 

VII. DECISION AT SEA 170 

Re in j or cements 173 

The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal 177 

VIII. ADVANCES TOWARD KOKUMBONA 190 

Operations 1-11 November 190 

Push Toward the Poha 202 

IX. THE SITUATION IN DECEMBER 210 

General Patch Ta\es Command 210 

Troop Strength 214 

Air Power 220 

The American Situation on Guadalcanal 222 

The Japanese Situation 227 

X. THE DECEMBER OFFENSIVE 232 

Mount Austen, 15-30 December 232 

The Capture of Hill 27 246 

XI. XIV CORPS' FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE WEST FRONT . 253 

Capture of the Galloping Horse 255 

The Coastal Offensive 278 

XII. XIV CORPS' FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE SOUTH FLANK . 281 

Taking of the Sea Horse 283 

Reduction of the Gifu 290 

XIII. FIGHTING ON GUADALCANAL 306 

The Americans 306 

The Measure of the Enemy 311 

Logistics 313 

XIV. XIV CORPS' SECOND JANUARY OFFENSIVE 319 

Plans and Preparations 322 

The 25th Division s Advance to Kokumbona 325 

CAM Division s Offensive 330 

Final Push to the Poha 333 

XV. FINAL OPERATIONS ON GUADALCANAL 336 

Japanese Plans 336 

Pursuit of the Enemy 340 

Summary 349 

EPILOGUE: OCCUPATION OF THE RUSSELLS 351 

xiv 



Page 

APPENDIX A. LETTER FROM GENERAL HARMON TO ADMIRAL 



GHORMLEY, 6 OCTOBER 1942 357 

APPENDIX B. GENERAL PATCH'S LETTER OF INSTRUCTIONS TO 

GENERAL COLLINS, 5 JANUARY 1943 360 

APPENDIX C. XIV CORPS FIELD ORDER NO. 1, 16 JANUARY 1943 - 362 
APPENDIX D. A JAPANESE ANALYSIS OF AMERICAN COMBAT 

METHODS ON GUADALCANAL 365 

APPENDIX E. U.S. ARMY BATTLE PARTICIPATION LIST FOR GUAD- 
ALCANAL 369 

GUIDE TO FOOTNOTES 372 

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 376 

INDEX 389 



Charts 

No. Page 

1. Organization of South Pacific Forces at the Inception of Task One ... 23 

2. Organization of Forces for Task One 29 

3. Organization of Landing Force for Task One 51 



Maps 

No. Page 

1. The Approach, 7 August 1942 60 

2. Landings in the Tulagi Area, 7 August 1942 62 

3. Matanikau Action, 19 August 1942 90 

4. Ilu Action, 21 August 1942 96 

5. Tasimboko Raid, 8 September 1942 Ill 

6. Matanikau Action, 24-27 September 1942 127 

7. Matanikau Offensive, 7-9 October 1942 132 

8. Matanikau-Lunga Front, 9 October 1942 143 

9. Push Toward Kokumbona, 1-4 November 1942 193 

10. Koli Point, 2-3 November 1942 196 

11. Advance to the Matanikau, 1st Battalion, 35th Infantry, 12-16 January 

1943 288 

12. Gifu Positions, 10 January 1943 2 93 

13. Pocketing the Gifu, 18-19 January 1943 301 

14. Reduction of the Gifu, 22-23 January 1943 304 

15. Russell Islands 353 



XV 



Maps I-XXI Are in Inverse Order Inside Back Cover 
I. The Pacific Areas, 1 August 1942 

II. Strategic Situation, South and Southwest Pacific, July 1942 

III. The Target Area 

IV. Guadalcanal and Florida Islands 

V. Landing on Guadalcanal and Capture of the Airfield, 7-8 August 1942 
VI. Bloody Ridge, 12-14 September 1942 
VII. Japanese Counteroffensive, 23-26 October 1942 
VIII. Koli Point, 4-9 November 1942 
IX. Push Toward the Poha, 18-20 November 1942 
X. Battle Area, December 1942-January 1943 
XL Mount Austen, 18-27 December 1942 
XII. Capture of Hill 27, 2 January 1943 

XIII. XIV Corps Plan, First January Offensive 

XIV. Galloping Horse, 10 January 1943 
XV. Galloping Horse, 12-13 January 1943 

XVI. 2d Marine Division Advance, 13-18 January 1943 
XVII. Capture of the Sea Horse, 8-11 January 1943 
XVIII. XIV Corps Advance, 10-18 January 1943 
XIX. XIV Corps Attack, 22 January 1943 

XX. Capture of Kokumbona and Advance to Poha River, 23-25 January 1943 
XXL Final Phase, 26 January-9 February 1943 



Illustrations 

No. P*& 

Buka Island Airfield 6 

The Battle of Midway 11 

Distribution of U.S. Naval Forces in the Pacific 18 

Maj. Gen. Millard F. Harmon 26 

Guadalcanal's North Coast Corridor 42 

Marine Commanders on Guadalcanal 46 

Old-Type Landing Craft 56 

Tulagi Island 64 

Landings on Florida Island 64 

Gavutu and Tanambogo 66 

The Southeast End of Tulagi 66 

xvi 



Page 

Marine Landings on Guadalcanal 68 

Bridging the Tenaru River 68 

The Lunga Point Airfield 72 

Japanese Equipment 74 

Supplies Accumulating at Red Beach 76 

Enemy Air Attacks on the Transports 76 

Improving the Lunga Airfield 84 

Fire Support 88 

Captain Martin Clemens 94 

An Improvised Ferry 94 

After the IIu River Battle 98 

Henderson Field 102 

Bomber Strikes on the Airfield 106 

Bloody Ridge 113 

Admiral Turner and General Vandegrift 121 

Supplies and Reinforcements 124 

Marine Mission to the Matanikau 130 

Positions on Hill 67 130 

Reinforcements Landed at Lunga Point 136 

Japanese Attacks on the Airfield 145 

American Defense Positions 145 

Aftermath of the 13-14 October Attack on the Lunga Perimeter 150 

Wreckage on the Matanikau Sandbar 158 

Strengthening the Lunga Perimeter 163 

The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands 168 

Admiral William F. Halsey 171 

The Site for Another Airfield 176 

Strategic Air Actions 178 

Landing of the 182d Regimental Combat Team 182 

Japanese Transports Beached and Burning 14 November 187 

Opening the Kokumbona Offensive 191 

The Point Cruz Trap 194 

Carlson's Raiders, Landing at Aola Bay 201 

Japanese Collapsible Landing Boats 201 

The Ravine in Front of Hills 80-81 207 

Relief for the Marines and a Change of Command 211 

Americal Division Reinforcements Landed 8 December 216 

Supply Troubles 224 

Bridges and Roads 226 

Mount Austen's Dominant Position 234 

Supply Movement to Mount Austen 236 

The Gifu 242 

xvii 



Page 

The Mount Austen Battle Area 248 

The First January Offensive Zone 256 

Casualty Movement 259 

The Galloping Horse 263 

27th Infantry Area 269 

Final Attacks on the Galloping Horse 277 

The Sea Horse 282 

The "Pusha Maru" 284 

The Envelopment of the Sea Horse 284 

Capture of the Sea Horse 291 

Japanese Positions in the Gifu 291 

Surrender Broadcasts to the Gifu 297 

35th Infantry Troops Leave the Line 302 

Employment of Tanks 308 

Transportation Problems 312 

Construction Equipment 315 

Fire Support for the Second January Offensive 321 

The Area of Advance from the Snake 324 

U. S. Leaders Inspecting the Battle Zone . . 328 

A Japanese Coastal Position 328 

Terrain of the Battle for Kokumbona 331 

The Northwest Coast of Guadalcanal 339 

Cape Esperance 347 



xviii 



GUADALCANAL: 
THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



CHAPTER I 

The Strategic Decision 



On 2 July 1942 the U. S. Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered Allied forces in the 
Pacific to mount a limited offensive to halt the Japanese advance toward the 
line of communications from the United States to Australia and New Zealand. 
At the same time the United States was committed to a program for building 
up forces in Great Britain to launch an offensive in Europe in 1942 or 1943. 
There were then available so few warships, transports, and cargo ships, so few 
trained troops, so few weapons and supplies, that any offensive in the Pacific, 
for which the United States would have to provide most of the forces, would 
necessarily be limited in scale. Yet it was essential to halt the Japanese who were 
then moving ever nearer to the flank of the tenuous line of communications. 
The Joint Chiefs 5 decision of 2 July led to the long, grim struggle for the pos- 
session of Guadalcanal, an island in the remote British Solomon Islands Protec- 
torate which was not specifically named in the orders dispatched by the Joint 
Chiefs. 

Allied Organization and Missions in the Pacific Theater 

The decision to mount a limited offensive in the Pacific was a logical corol- 
lary to earlier strategic decisions. The highest political and military authorities 
of the United States and Great Britain had decided to defeat Germany before 
concentrating on Japan, The world had been divided into spheres of primary 
military responsibility, and the United States assumed responsibility for directing 
the war in the Pacific. Subject to decisions of the U. S.-British Combined Chiefs 
of Staff on global strategy, the strategic direction of the war in the Pacific was 
assigned to the U. S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. In March 1942 they had agreed to 
assemble forces in Britain during that year to mount an offensive in Europe at 
the earliest possible moment. For the time being, Allied strategy in the Pacific 
was to be limited to containing the Japanese with the forces then committed or 
allotted. 1 Concentration against Germany, t it was believed, would give the most 
effective support to the Soviet Union and keep the forces in the British Isles 

1 See JCS 23, Strategic Deployment of Land, Sea, and Air Forces of the United States, 14 Mar 42. 



2 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



from being inactive, while containment of the Japanese would save Australia 
and New Zealand from enemy conquest. The two dominions, important to the 
Allies as sources of supply, as essential economic and political units of the Brit- 
ish Commonwealth of Nations, and in the future to become bases for offensive 
operations, would have to be held. 2 The implications of this decision were clear. 
If Australia and New Zealand were to be held, then the line of communications 
from the United States to those dominions would have to be held. Forces to 
defend the Allied bases along the line, including New Caledonia, the Fijis, and 
Samoa, had already been sent overseas. There were not enough ships, troops, 
weapons, or supplies, however, to develop each base into an impregnable for- 
tress. The bases were designed to be mutually supporting, and each island had 
been allotted forces sufficient to hold off an attacking enemy long enough to 
permit air and naval striking forces to reach the threatened position from adja- 
cent bases, including the Hawaiian Islands and Australia, 8 

For the conduct of operations in the Pacific, two separate commands, the 
Southwest Pacific Area and the Pacific Ocean Areas, embracing almost the 
entire ocean and its land areas, were designated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff with 



the approval of the President on 30 March. (Map /)* The Southwest Pacific 
Area (SWPA) included the Philippine Islands, the South China Sea, the Gulf 
of Siam, the Netherlands East Indies (except Sumatra), the Solomon Islands, 
Australia, and the waters to the south. The post of Supreme Commander of 
Allied forces in this vast area was given to Gen. Douglas MacArthur 
(CINCSWPA), who had just reached Australia from the Philippines. 

The even vaster Pacific Ocean Areas included the remainder of the Pa- 
cific Ocean west of the North American Continent except for one area — the 
Southeast Pacific Area, the western boundary of which ran from the western 
Mexican-Guatemalan boundary southwest to the nth parallel of north lati- 
tude, to longitude no degrees West, and thence due south along the noth 
meridian. The Pacific Ocean Areas (POA) included three subordinate Areas — 
the North, Central, and South Pacific Areas. The North Pacific Area included 
all the Pacific north of latitude 42 degrees North. The Central Pacific Area, 
embracing the Hawaiian Islands, Christmas, Palmyra, Johnston, most of the 
Japanese-held Gilberts, and the Japanese-held Marshalls, Carolines, Marianas, 
Formosa, in addition to most of the Japanese home islands, lay between the 

*Maps numbered in Roman are placed in inverse order inside the back cover. 
1 JCS Minutes, 6th Meeting, 16 Mar 42. 

*See JPS 21/7, Defense Island Bases along the Line of Communications between Hawaii and Australia, 
j 8 April 42, (JCS 48 has the same title.) 



THE STRATEGIC DECISION 



3 



equator and latitude 42 degrees North, South of the equator, west of longitude 
no degrees West, and east of the Southwest Pacific was the South Pacific Area, 
which included thousands of islands and more than one million square miles 
of ocean. New Zealand, New Caledonia, and the New Hebrides, Santa Cruz, 
Fiji, Samoan, Tongan, Cook, and Society Islands all lay in the South Pacific. 

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet 
(CINCPAC), was appointed Commander in Chief of all Allied forces in the 
Pacific Ocean Areas (CINCPOA) except those forces responsible for the land 
defense of New Zealand, which were controlled by the New Zealand Chiefs of 
Staff. Admiral Nimitz, with headquarters at Pearl Harbor, was to command 
the Central and North Pacific Areas directly, but was ordered to appoint a 
subordinate who would command the South Pacific Area. 

Both General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz were responsible to the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington. Gen, George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff 
of the U. S. Army, acted as executive for the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the South- 
west Pacific Area. Admiral Ernest J. King, Commander in Chief, U. S. Fleet, 
was executive for the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the Pacific Ocean Areas. 

The missions assigned to MacArthur and Nimitz were virtually the same. 
They were to hold those island positions between the United States and Aus- 
tralia which were essential to the security of the line of communications and to 
the support of air, surface, and amphibious operations against the Japanese; to 
contain the Japanese within the Pacific; to support the defense of North 
America; to protect essential sea and air communications; and to prepare major 
amphibious offensives, the first of which were to be delivered from the South 
and Southwest Pacific Areas. Each area was to support its neighbor's operations. 
When task forces from the Pacific Ocean Areas operated beyond their boun- 
daries, either the Combined or the Joint Chiefs of Staff would co-ordinate their 
operations with those of other forces. 4 

Japanese Advances 

The speed and breadth of the Japanese offensive which opened on 7 Decem- 
ber 1941 had rendered ineffective the Allied organization of the Pacific which 
preceded the establishment of the Pacific Ocean and Southwest Pacific Areas. 
From December 1941 until May of the following year, the Japanese had been 

1 JCS, Directive to General MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz, 30 Mar 42. The correct title of POA was 
actually Pacific Ocean Area, but because the POA included three Areas, the plural will be used. 



4 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



expanding their empire; they defeated the scanty Allied forces opposing them 
and established a perimeter of bases to guard their newly-won gains. When 
Rabaul, a small town on Gazelle Peninsula on New Britain in the Bismarck 
Arc hipelago, fe ll on 23 January 1942, the Japanese had gained a major objec- 
tive. (Map II) Rabaul lay just 1,170 nautical miles southeast of the Japanese 



bases in the Palau Islands, and 640 miles south of Truk in the Carolines. Easily 
defended, Rabaul possessed the best harbor in the entire archipelago as well as 
excellent sites for airfields, A key base for the Japanese effort to dominate both 
eastern New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, it was to be the focus of the 
Allied war effort in that area for two years. The coast of New Guinea lies 440 
nautical miles southwest of Rabaul, and the center of the north coast of Guadal- 
canal Island in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate is only 565 nautical 
miles southeast of Rabaul. Since Japanese bombers from Rabaul could easily 
attack both areas, the Japanese were well situated for a push to the south. They 
could cover their advance by constructing forward fighter plane bases as they 
advanced. No island in the New Guinea-New Britain-New Ireland-Solomons 
area lies beyond fighter plane range of its nearest neighbor. The Japanese could 
advance step by step along the island bases covered by aircraft throughout their 
entire advance. Even if the Japanese commanders had ventured to seize bases 
beyond the range of their aircraft, they probably could have done so easily, for 
only a handful of aircraft and Australian soldiers were defending the New 
Guinea-Bismarck-Solomons area. The Japanese, fortunately, elected to move 
southward cautiously and deliberately. 

After capturing Rabaul the Japanese garrisoned the Duke of York Islands 
in Saint George's Channel between New Britain and New Ireland. They also 
moved to New Ireland itself and built an air base at Kavieng, 130 nautical miles 
northwest of Rabaul. Having covered their rear, they began to move south in a 
series of amphibious advances which, had they succeeded completely, would 
have encircled the Coral Sea. The first efforts were directed against New 
Guinea. The Japanese did not move into the Solomons until later. The Allied 
base at Port Moresby on the south coast of the Papuan Peninsula of New 
Guinea was their main objective. Instead of taking it at one blow in early 1942 
and developing it before the Allies could retaliate, the Japanese moved gradu- 
ally. They occupied Gasmata off the south coast of New Britain in February 
1942, then crossed to New Guinea and took Lae and Salamaua in March. 6 

B U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey, The Allied Campaign Against Rabaul (Washington, D.C., 1946) > p. 7* 
U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey will be cited hereafter as USSBS. 



THE STRATEGIC DECISION 



5 



They first moved into the Solomons in March 1942, {Map III) On 13 March 
naval landing and construction forces took Buka, the northernmost island in 
the Solomons, 170 nautical miles southeast of Rabaul, and built a fighter strip 
there. Additional forces began building fighter strips at Buin and near-by Ka- 
hili on the south coast of Bougainville, 270 nautical miles from Rabaul. Others 
were begun at Kieta on the east coast and in the Shortland Islands. 

The Japanese also assembled a carrier task force and an amphibious force 
at Truk to attack Port Moresby. A detachment of the amphibious force landed 
on Tulagi in the Solomons on 3 May. The main body of the Japanese force, 
however, failed to capture Port Moresby. Intercepted by Allied naval and air 
forces in the Coral Sea in May, the Japanese lost one aircraft carrier and were 
forced to withdraw. Allied forces also struck at Tulagi during the Coral Sea 
engagement. 

The Japanese then turned their attention to Midway and the Aleutian 
Islands. Orders issued by Imperial General Headquarters during the opening 
phases of the Coral Sea battle had directed the Commander in Chief of the 
Combined Fleet to "cooperate" with the Army in invading Midway and the 
Aleutians. 6 These attacks were to be followed by invasions, in co-operation with 
the ijth Army, of "strategic points around the NEW CALEDONIA, FIJI, and 
SAMOA Islands" and the destruction of "important enemy bases," to effect the 
isolation of Australia. 7 

In June the Japanese obtained a foothold in the Aleutians, but their main 
effort at the same time against Midway did not succeed. Four of their aircraft 
carriers were sunk off Midway and the Japanese withdrew without attempting 
to land on the island. This engagement, so disastrous for the enemy, did much 
to restore the naval balance in the Pacific and enabled the Allies to take the 
initiative. 

On 11 July Imperial General Headquarters canceled the orders which had 
called for invasions of Midway, New Caledonia, Fiji, and Samoa. 8 But at Tu- 
lagi the Japanese had already built a seaplane base which had originally been 
designed to support the attack on Port Moresby. The tiny island of Tulagi, seat 
of government of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate, dominates Tulagi 
Harbor, the best ship anchorage in the southern Solomons, and lies 560 nautical 

8 Imperial General Headquarters, Navy Stf Sec, Ord No. 18, 5 May 42, in ATIS, SCAP, Doc No. 14016 B. 
1 Ibid., Ord. No. 19, 18 May 42; Japanese Studies in World War II, XXXIX., 17th Army Opns, I, (n.p.). 
A copy is filed with the Hist Div, SSUSA. 

8 ATIS, SCAP, Doc No. 14016 B, Ord No. 20, n Jul 42. 




BUKA ISLAND AIRFIELD was built by the Japanese in the spring of 1942 as one of a 
chain of fighter strips permitting their aircraft to "island hop" in the drive to the south. 



THE STRATEGIC DECISION 



7 



miles from Espiritu Santo in the British-French condominium of the New 
Hebrides, Noumea in New Caledonia is 800 miles southeast of Tulagi, and the 
Fijis are 1,000 miles away. 

Even before the Japanese orders directing the attacks against New Cale- 
donia, the Fijis, and Samoa were canceled, the Japanese commander at Tulagi 
had reconnoitered the island of Guadalcanal, twenty miles away. Perhaps on 
his own initiative he decided to build an airfield near the mouth of the Lunga 
River in the center of the north coast. This airfield, which was intended to 
provide a base for sixty naval planes, was to have been completed by 15 Au- 
gust. 10 If the Japanese intended to continue their advance, 11 the next logical step 
would certainly have been a series of moves through the New Hebrides toward 
the Fijis, Samoa, and New Caledonia. 12 The seaplane base at Tulagi and the air- 
field under construction on Guadalcanal did not yet directly threaten the Allied 
South Pacific air route, but they portended a serious threat. 

There was no unified Japanese command controlling operations in the 
eastern New Guinea-Bismarck-Solomons area. Rabaul was to become the site 
of separate Army and Navy commands, each of which was responsible to sepa- 
rate higher headquarters. The initial landings in the Solomons had been ef- 
fected under naval command, but ground operations in the Solomons and east- 
ern New Guinea later came under control of the ijth Army, headquarters of 
which were established at Rabaul in July 1942. Later in July the headquarters 
of the Southeastern Fleet was also established at Rabaul. This fleet controlled 
the 8th Fleet, the nth Air Fleet, and the 8th, 14th, 1st, and yth Base Forces at 
Rabaul, New Ireland, Buin, and Lae, respectively. 13 

The Japanese advances into the Bismarcks, New Guinea, and the Solomons 
had generally not been strongly opposed, and the few Australian troops had 
been killed or driven out of the Bismarcks and Solomons. The Allies, for- 
tunately, had been able to keep watch on the enemy's movements. The Austra- 
lian Government, long before World War II, had created the Coastwatching 
Service as an integral part of the Directorate of Naval Intelligence of the Royal 

*USSBS, Interrogations of Japanese Officials (OPNAV-P-03-1 oo, 2 vols.), I, 68. 

10 GHQ, SCAP, ATIS, MIS: Hist Rpts, Naval Opns: Rpt Battle Savo, 8 Aug 42 (Doc No. 15685, 15 Mar 
46). ATIS reports and translations are in the MIS Library, Dcpt of the Army. 

11 See USSBS, Interrogations, I, 70; II, 474, 524; Allied Campaign Against Rabaul, pp. 46, 87. 

12 Maj Gen Shuicho Miyazaki (former CofS, 17th Army) Personal Account of His Experience during the 
Solomons Campaign, p. 5. Miyazaki and other ljth Army officers were interrogated, at the author's request, 
by G-3 AFP AC historians and ATIS, SCAP, in Tokyo in 1946. Miyazaki also proffered his personal account 
which, together with the interrogations, is in the files of the Hist Div, SSUSA. 

18 Allied Campaign Against Rabaul, pp. 43, 87; 17th Army Opns, L 



8 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Australian Navy. The coastwatchers, most of whom were former planters and 
civil servants who had lived in the islands for years, remained behind the Japa- 
nese lines after the invasions, and radioed reports on the enemy's troop, ship, 
and plane movement to the Directorate of Naval Intelligence at Townsville, 
Australia. 14 

When the Japanese moved to Guadalcanal, coastwatchers hidden in the 
mountains -reported the fact to Allied headquarters in Australia. This informa- 
tion was transmitted to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington on 6 July 
1942. 10 But even before the Japanese were known to have begun their airstrip 
on Guadalcanal, and before Imperial General Headquarters canceled the orders 
to invade New Caledonia, Samoa, and the Fijis, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had 
issued orders for the limited offensive in the area to protect the line of commu- 
nications to Australia. 

The Problem of Command and Strategy 

With the Japanese threatening to cut the line of communications to Austra- 
lia, or to attack Australia directly, the American officers responsible for the con- 
duct of the Pacific war had agreed that an offensive should be mounted to end 
the threat. Before the Joint Chiefs of Staff could issue orders for the attack, they 
had to settle serious problems regarding command and the employment of 
forces. 

The Army's Plan 

As early as 8 May, after the Japanese defeat in the Coral Sea, General Mac- 
Arthur was preparing plans for an offensive. He pointed out that the Japanese 
victories in the Philippines and Burma would free at least two infantry divisions 
and additional aircraft, and that the enemy forces in Malaya and the Nether- 
lands East Indies might also be moved forward. Still able to move unhindered 
along interior lines of communication, the enemy could attack New Guinea and 
the line of communications between the United States and Australia. To prevent 
these attacks, MacArthur wished to take the offensive, but he desired that his 
naval forces first be strengthened by aircraft carriers, and that more planes and 
troops be added to his air and ground forces. 16 

14 See Commander Eric A. Feldt, RAN, The Coastwatchers (Melbourne, 1946). 

15 Rad, CINC SWPA to WDCSA, CM-4N-2a68, 6 Jul 42. All times and dates given in this volume 
are local time except those in citations in the South Pacific War Diary. The latter bear Greenwich Civil Time. 
16 Rad, CINC SWPA to WDCSA, CM-IN-2333, 8 May 42. 



THE STRATEGIC DECISION 



9 



At the same time Admiral Nimitz was contemplating the possibility of at- 
tacking Tulagi in the Solomons, a project which found favor with Admiral 
King. Admiral Nimitz first suggested using a Marine raider battalion for the 
attack, but Admiral King and Generals Marshall and MacArthur all agreed, on 
i June, that one raider battalion would be too small a landing force, 17 General 
MacArthur's plans envisaged a larger operation than a raid. Believing that one 
Japanese regiment was then holding Tulagi but was not thoroughly dug in, 
and that one division was stationed at Rabaul, he desired to mount a large-scale 
offensive against the Solomons and New Britain. He suggested that as more 
troops became available, the South Pacific forces might profitably move farther 
forward into the Loyalty, Santa Cruz, and New Hebrides Islands. 18 

After the great Japanese defeat off Midway on 3-4 June 1942, General 
MacArthur, on 8 June, again suggested taking the offensive at an early date, 
with the New Britain-New Ireland area as the objective. Available trained 
troops in the Southwest Pacific Area then included the 32d and 41st U. S. Infan- 
try Divisions and the 7th Australian Division. These divisions, however, were 
not equipped or trained for amphibious operations. They could support an 
amphibious attack by moving ashore once a beachhead had been taken, but 
they could not take a beachhead themselves. The objectives of the offensive lay 
beyond range of U. S. fighter aircraft. Close air support would have to be pro- 
vided by aircraft carriers, but none were assigned to the Southwest Pacific Area. 
General MacArthur therefore requested that one trained amphibious division 
and a suitable naval task force be made available at the earliest possible date. If 
these forces seized the New Britain-New Ireland area, the Japanese would be 
forced back to Truk. 19 

At the same time the Joint Chiefs of Staff were considering the possibility 
of persuading the British to use the Eastern Fleet against Timor, or against the 
Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, in co-ordination with the 
offensive effort of the United States. 20 

General Marshall, who favored placing the prospective offensive under 
General MacArthur's command, explained his views to Admiral King on 12 
June. He believed that an attack designed to retake eastern New Guinea and 

"Rad, GHQ SWPA to OPD, I Jun 42. OPD 381 PTO Sec. II (5-28-42); Rad, WDCSA to CINC 
SWPA, CM-OUT-0095, 1 Jun 42. 

11 Memo, WDCSA for COMINCH, 6 Jun 42, sub: Early Attack on Japanese Adv Bases, OPD 381 SWPA 
Sec. n. 

" Rad, GHQ SWPA to WDCSA, CM-IN-2264, 8 Jun 42. 

" COMINCH to COMNAVEU, 0046 of 10 Jun 42. OPD 381 SWPA Sec. I. 



10 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



New Britain could be mounted in early July. If the attack succeeded, it might be 
followed by a raid on Truk. The ist Marine Division, part of which was soon 
to land at Wellington, New Zealand, could make an initial amphibious assault 
against the Japanese positions. This division, plus twelve transports and four 
destroyer-transports, could be assembled at Brisbane by 5 July. The three trained 
divisions in Australia could support and eventually relieve the Marine division 
after adequate beachheads had been established and normal land warfare had 
begun. One hundred and six heavy bombers, 138 medium bombers, 48 light 
bombers, and 371 fighters, to be assembled in Australia by 1 July, would provide 
land-based air support. Additional bombers could be dispatched from Hawaii. 
Army fighters and bombers could support attacks against Lae and Salamaua. 
Bombers could reach Rabaul, but the fighters, from their present basis in Aus- 
tralia and Port Moresby, could not fly that far. Aircraft carriers would therefore 
be required to provide fighter support, and other naval surface vessels would 
naturally be needed. Unity of command would be absolutely essential to make 
the operation a complete success. 21 

General Marshall had also directed General MacArthur to prepare tenta- 
tive plans along these lines. 22 The War Department and General MacArthur 
both believed that the operation, since it would take place in his area, should be 
conducted under General MacArthur's control. As the forces involved would be 
largely naval, the War Department suggested that a naval officer, under Gen- 
eral MacArthur, be placed in command of the task force which would execute 
the operation. 23 
The Navy's View 

The Navy's ideas differed from those of the Army. Admiral King presented 
his views to General Marshall on 25 June. Regretting that the United States had 
not been able to attack the Japanese immediately after Midway, he thought that 
the offensive should be launched about 1 August by a task force under the con- 
trol of Admiral Nimitz. The immediate objectives would be positions in the 
Solomons in the Southwest Pacific Area and in the Santa Cruz Islands in the 
South Pacific Area, 335 nautical miles east-southeast of Guadalcanal. The ulti- 
mate objectives would be the New Guinea-New Britain area. 

21 Memo, WDCSA for COMINCH, 12 Jun 42, sub: Opns in SWPA. OPD 381 SWPA Sec. I Case 73; 
rad, GHQ SWPA to WDCSA, CM-IN-7976, 24 Jun 42. 

23 Rad, WDCSA to CINC SWPA CM-OUT-2319, 10 Jun 42. 

28 Memo, ACofS USA for WDCSA, 24 Jun 42, sub: Opns in SWPA. OPD 381 SWPA Sec. II Case 76; 
Rad, GHQ SWPA to WDCSA, CM-IN-7976, 24 Jun 42. 




THE BATTLE OF MIDWAY did much to restore naval balance in the Pacific. At 1945 
hours 6 June 1942, dive-bombers from the U.S.S. Hornet attached a Japanese heavy cruiser 
of the Mogami class leaping it gutted and abandoned. 



12 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Admiral King believed that the force should include at least two aircraft 
carriers with accompanying cruisers and destroyers, the ist Marine Division and 
transports of the South Pacific Amphibious Force, five Marine air squadrons, 
and the land-based planes from the South Pacific. The Southwest Pacific would 
furnish the task force with land-based aircraft, surface ships, and submarines. 
The permanent occupation of the Santa Cruz and other islands in the South 
Pacific Area would be effected by the commander of that area with forces to be 
designated later. The captured islands in the Solomons-New Guinea area 
would be permanently occupied under General MacArthur's direction by 
troops moved forward from Australia on shipping provided by Admiral 
Nimitz. 

Admiral King wished General MacArthur's forces and elements of the 
British Eastern Fleet to conduct diversionary attacks against Timor in the 
Netherlands East Indies at the same time that Admiral Nimitz' task force 
struck the Solomon and Santa Cruz Islands. 24 He informed General MacAr- 
thur, Admiral Nimitz, and the South Pacific Area Headquarters of his ideas- 25 
Army— Navy Discussions 

Admiral King's plans did not find favor in the War Department. Navy 
planners had been discussing the projected offensive with members of the 
Operations Division (OPD) of the War Department General Staff who were 
General Marshall's strategic advisers. The Army planners estimated that the 
Japanese ground forces in the target area included two brigades around Ra- 
baul, about 1,000 Special Naval Landing Force troops at Lae and Salamaua, two 
companies on New Ireland, one battalion in the Admiralties, a small garrison 
on Bougainville, and a regiment in the Tulagi area. One hundred and twenty- 
six aircraft, including bombers, fighters, and reconnaissance planes, were be- 
lieved to be located in New Britain, New Ireland, New Guinea, and the Solo- 
mons. It was considered possible that thirty-three bombers on Timor would be 
used to reinforce Rabaul. Japanese naval strength in the target area included 
only small units, but strong forces were believed to be based at Truk. The Op- 
erations Division concluded that these forces were capable of attacking Port 
Moresby, the east coast of Australia, or New Caledonia, and could be expected 

* 4 Memo, COM1NCH for WDCSA, 25 Jun 42, sub: Offensive Opns in SO and SOWESPAC Areas, copy 
of FF/1/A16-3 (1) Ser 00544. OPD 381 SWPA Sec. II Case 80. 

25 Ibid.; CINCPAC to COMSOPAC, 0017 of 23 Jun 42, in War Diary, South Pacific Area and South 
Pacific Force, 1 May 42-31 Dec 42 (hereafter cited as SOPAC War Diary) ; COMINCH to COMSOWESPAC- 
FOR, 1255 of 23 Jun 42; COMINCH to CINCPAC, 2306 of 24 Jun 42. SOPAC War Diary. A copy of the 
SOPAC War Diary is in the Office of Naval Records and Library, Dept of the Navy. 



THE STRATEGIC DECISION 



13 



to try to take Port Moresby, which was necessary as a base for operations against 
northern Australia. Loss of Port Moresby would deprive the Allies of the only 
advanced base from which they could strike Lae, Salamaua, and Rabaul. If the 
Allies were to attack the Japanese at Rabaul, the enemy would be able to move 
troops from Tulagi and the Admiralties to Rabaul in four days, although no 
strong reinforcements could be sent to Rabaul in less than three weeks. Unless 
the Japanese air installations at Rabaul could be reduced by preparatory bom- 
bardment, the projected offensive would meet strong resistance from land- 
based planes. 

The seizure of Rabaul, followed by the seizure of eastern New Guinea, 
New Ireland, New Britain, and the Solomons, would deprive the Japanese of 
bases from which they could attack Australia and the Allied-held islands in the 
South Pacific, and advance the radius of Allied reconnaissance and air attack as 
far as Truk. Such a plan would require the three available infantry divisions 
a*nd aircraft in Australia as well as the five cruisers, twelve destroyers, and thirty 
submarines in the Southwest Pacific, in addition to the 1st Marine Division, 
twelve transports and cargo ships, and at least two aircraft carriers from the 
Pacific Ocean Areas. The Navy's plan to attack and occupy Tulagi first and then 
move progressively against Rabaul would require a naval task force, an Army 
garrison force, and additional land-based aircraft from Australia and Port 
Moresby, all under naval command. Neither plan could be executed before 
August, as the necessary shipping could not be assembled in time. 

The Operations Division concluded that a plan to take Rabaul first offered 
the greater promise of success, since it would provide for the maximum use of 
available forces and would strike directly at the primary objective. A quick 
stroke at Rabaul, the key Japanese base in the entire area, could be supported by 
land-based bombers although aircraft carriers would have to provide fighter 
support. Once Rabaul fell, the Operations Division believed, the remaining 
Japanese positions in the area, isolated beyond their supply lines, would be ren- 
dered impotent. The Navy plan, on the other hand, involved a gradual move 
from Tulagi to Rabaul. The capture of Tulagi, an operation in which the 
Allied forces could be supported by long-range bombers, would not be difficult, 
but two factors would militate against the success of the Navy plan. First, fur- 
ther advances northward toward Rabaul would be subjected to continuous 
aerial bombardment, and, second, a step-by-step advance would warn the Japa- 
nese and permit them to reinforce Rabaul with air and ground forces before 
enough Allied strength could be mustered to strike directly at Rabaul. 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



On the basis of these conclusions, the Operations Division recommended 
that Rabaul be attacked first, that the Navy provide the marine division and 
twelve transports and at least two carriers and supporting vessels, that the attack 
be launched as early as possible, and that the operation be under General Mac- 
Arthur's command. 26 

The Army and Navy plans differed considerably, but the greatest obstacle 
to agreement between the services was the selection of a commander. Army 
planners reported to General Marshall that they would be able to resolve all 
differences with the Navy planners except that of command. According to the 
Army point of view, unity of command would be essential since the offensive 
would involve not only the amphibious assault force and land-based aircraft 
but also the movement and supply of the garrison forces and co-ordination with 
the Allies. Since the offensive would take place in General MacArthur s area he 
should control it, and the tactical command of the attacking force should be in 
the hands of a naval officer. 

The Navy agreed that unity of command was essential but feared that, if 
the high command were given to General MacArthur, he might dangerously 
expose the aircraft carriers by placing them in the waters between the Solomons 
and New Guinea within range of land-based aircraft. Tulagi would have to be 
reduced first to lessen the hazard to the carriers. Command of the attacking 
force, the Navy planners concluded, should go to Admiral Nimitz' subordinate, 
Vice Adm. Robert L. Ghormley, the commander of the South Pacific Area and 
South Pacific Force. The Army planners recommended to General Marshall 
that he and Admiral King personally choose a commander for the invasion. 2 ' 

Informed by General Marshall of the Navy's opposition to his plan, 28 Gen- 
eral MacArthur responded vigorously. The Navy, he asserted, had misunder- 
stood his proposals. Rabaul was the ultimate objective, but direct assault upon 
it would be rendered impossible by the limited amount of land-based air sup- 
port which could be brought to bear from present bases. His plans involved a 
progressive advance against the Solomons and New Guinea's north coast to 
obtain airfields from which to support the final attacks against Rabaul and to 
cover the naval surface forces. He felt that only confusion would result if 

28 OPD Estimate, in memo of Col W, L. Ritchie (Chief, SWPA Theater Gp), OPD, foi Brig Gen St. Clair 
Streett (Ch Theater Gp, OPD), 23 Jun 42, sub: Offensive Opns in SWPA. OPD 381 SWPA Sec. II Case 80. 

"Memo ACofS OPD (Brig Gen T.C. Handy) for WDCSA. 24 Jun 42. sub: Opns in SWPA. OPD 481 
SWPA Sec. II Case 76; rad, WDCSA to GHQ SWPA, CM-OUT-5704, 23 Jun 42. 

" Ibid. 



THE STRATEGIC DECISION 



15 



ground forces from the Pacific Ocean Areas were employed inside the South- 
west Pacific Area under a naval command exercised from a distant headquar- 
ters, as the Navy had suggested. The Southwest Pacific Headquarters was the 
logical agency to direct the offensive, for the necessary intelligence, reconnais- 
sance, and planning agencies were all in its area, and General MacArthur be- 
lieved that he should command any large operation through his air, ground, 
and surface commanders. Finally, he opposed the idea of trying to retake Timor 
at that time, on the ground that there were not enough air or naval forces in the 
area to support such an effort. 29 

An exchange of memoranda between General Marshall and Admiral King 
on 26 June failed to produce agreement. General Marshall opposed the plan to 
place the invading force under Admiral Nimitz' control. He sought to allay 
the Navy's fear for the safety of the aircraft carriers by suggesting that the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff could pass on the arrangements for the employment of naval 
forces, and he reiterated the argument that, since the ultimate objectives lay in 
General MacArthuf's area, he should command. 80 Admiral King, still uncon- 
vinced, felt that Admiral Nimitz should command. At the conclusion of the 
amphibious phase, King suggested, General MacArthur could control further 
movements into the target area; the movements would be supported by the 
Pacific Fleet, South Pacific operations would be primarily amphibious and 
naval in character. As the nearest bomber base in Australia lay nearly 1,000 
miles away from Tulagi, the Southwest Pacific Area would be able to render 
little support at first. Admiral King therefore insisted on a naval commander, 
and he suggested that the Navy would begin operations immediately even if 
Army forces in the Southwest Pacific Area gave no support. 31 

At the same time Admiral King, believing that the Army might delay its 
participation in the attack, directed Admiral Nimitz to proceed with prepara- 
tions for an offensive in the Solomon and Santa Cruz Islands and to make 
recommendations regarding both the movement of Army aircraft from Hawaii 
and support by Southwest Pacific Forces. 82 Admiral Nimitz immediately began 

" Rad, GHQ SWPA to WDCSA, CM-IN-7976, 24 Jun 42. Apparently OPD had also misunderstood 
General MacArthur's plans. Complete details on General MacArthur's plans during this period will be given 
in a forthcoming volume of U.S. ARMY IN WORLD WAR II. 

80 Memo, WDCSA for COMINCH, 26 Jun 42, sub: Offensive Opns in SO and SOWESPAC Areas. OPD 
381 SWPA Sec. II Case 80. 

81 Memo, COMINCH for WDCSA, 26 Jun 42, sub; Offensive Opns in SO and SOWESPAC Areas. OPD 
381 SWPA Sec. II Case 80. 

a * COMINCH to CINCPAC, 1415 of 27 Jun 42. SOPAC War Diary. 



i6 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



preparations, as did Admiral Ghormley in the South Pacific. The commanding 
general of the ist Marine Division, a part of which had just landed in Welling- 
ton, was ordered to prepare plans and load ships for an attack against the Solo- 
mon and Santa Cruz Islands. Admiral Nimitz requested of the Joint Chiefs that 
eight Army B-17's and thirteen Army B-26's be moved from Hawaii to New 
Caledonia, and the same number from Hawaii to the Fijis, to be under his con- 
trol. He also asked that the surface ships and all available submarines of the 
Southwest Pacific naval forces be made available to Admiral Ghormley, and 
that long-range aircraft from the Southwest Pacific lend whatever support 
Ghormley should recommend. 33 

The implications in Admiral King's belief that the Army might not fully 
participate disturbed General Marshall, for he believed that all available support 
should be given to the offensive regardless of the outcome of the command dis- 
pute, and he sent orders to that effect to General MacArthur. 34 He decided to 
settle the disagreement by personal conferences with Admiral King. 35 The two 
officers negotiated, in person and in writing, from 29 June until 2 July, Admiral 
King suggested that Admiral Ghormley command the offensive until the Tul- 
agi operation was over, and that thereafter General MacArthur should control- 
the advance toward Rabaul. 36 The Army had some objections, but opposed even 
more strongly an alternative proposal by Admiral King that Ghormley com- 
mand the operation directly under the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Admiral King's first 
compromise proposal was adopted. To prevent depleting General MacArthur's 
area of trained troops, General Marshall insisted that occupation forces for Tul- 
agi be drawn from the South Pacific instead of from the Southwest Pacific Area. 
By 2 July it seemed possible that three aircraft carriers instead of two could be 
provided, although the serious German threat to the British in the Middle East 
made the raid on Timor seem unlikely. 37 

The Decision 

On 2 July 1942 General Marshall and Admiral King, having reached agree- 
ment on all questions at issue, signed the "Jd nt Directive for Offensive Opera- 

83 Memo, COMINCH for WDCSA, 29 Jun 42, sub: Amph Opns in SO and SOWESPAC. OPD 381 
SWPA Sec. II Case 80. 

" Rad, WDCSA to CINC SWPA, CM-OUT-7356, 28 Jun 42. 

8B Memo, WDCSA for COMINCH, 29 Jun 42 <no sub), OPD 381 SWPA Sec. II Case 80. 
86 Rad, WDCSA to CINC SWPA, CM-OUT-7501, 29 Jun 42. 
37 Rad, WDCSA to CINC SWPA, CM-OUT-0677, 3 Jul 42. 



THE STRATEGIC DECISION 



17 



tions in the Southwest Pacific Area Agreed on by the United States Chiefs of 
Staff." This directive ordered that an offensive be mounted at once. The ultimate 
object was the seizure of the New Britain-New Ireland-New Guinea area. The 
operation was divided into three tasks. Task One was the seizure and occupa- 
tion of the Santa Cruz Islands, Tulagi, and "adjacent positions," and would be 
under the command of an officer designated by Admiral Nimitz. General Mac- 
Arthur was to attach the necessary naval reinforcements and land-based aircraft 
to the South Pacific forces, and to interdict enemy air and naval activity west 
of the target area. The target date of Task One for planning purposes would be 
1 August. 

Task Two, the seizure and occupation of the remainder of the Solomons, of 
Lae, Salamaua, and of the northwest coast of New Guinea, would be under Gen- 
eral MacArthur's command, as would Task Three, the seizure and occupation 
of Rabaul and adjacent positions in the New Britain-New Ireland area. The 
composition of forces, the timing of the tasks, and the passage of command 
would be determined by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

The boundary between the Southwest Pacific and the South Pacific Areas 
was to be moved west to longitude 159 degrees East on 1 August, a change which 
placed the entire Task One target area — Tulagi, Guadalcanal, and Florida, as 
well as the Russells, Malaita, and San Cristobal — in the South Pacific under 
Ghormley but left the remainder of the Solomons in the Southwest Pacific 
under MacArthur. 

Forces for all three tasks were to be drawn from the ground, air, and naval 
forces then under General MacArthur, and from Marine air squadrons and land- 
based aircraft in the South Pacific, plus at least two aircraft carriers with ac- 
companying cruisers and destroyers to support the South Pacific Amphibious 
Force (which included transports, cargo ships, and the 1st Marine Division). 
Army forces from the South Pacific were to be used to garrison Tulagi and the 
adjacent positions, while troops from General MacArthur's command would 
provide other necessary garrisons. 

Naval task force commanders would exercise direct command of the am- 
phibious forces throughout the conduct of all three tasks. The Joint Chiefs of 
Staff reserved the power to withdraw U. S. Fleet units upon the completion of 
any phase of the operation if the aircraft carriers were jeopardized or if an 
emergency arose elsewhere in the Pacific. 88 

" Joint Directive for Offensive Opns in SWPA Agreed on by U.S. CofS, 2 Jul 42. OPD 381 Sec. II Case 83. 




DISTRIBUTION OF U.S. NAVAL FORCES IN THE PACIFIC at the time of planning 
for the Guadalcanal operation. 



THE STRATEGIC DECISION 



19 



Admiral King dispatched orders to Pearl Harbor 39 embodying the provi- 
sions of the directive and went to San Francisco to confer with Admiral Nimitz. 
General Marshall informed General MacArthur of the plan and told him that 
Admiral Ghormley, who would command during Task One, would visit Mel- 
bourne for conferences, 40 Admiral King's orders of 2 July did not actually initi- 
ate naval preparation for the offensive, for both Nimitz and Ghormley had 
begun their preparations in June when Admiral King had contemplated mak- 
ing the offensive an all-Navy operation. 

By the first week in July Admiral Nimitz' plans were approaching com- 
pletion. He decided that Admiral Ghormley should exercise strategic control 
over the forces in the Task One operation. Vice Adm. Frank J. Fletcher would 
command, under Admiral Ghormley, the entire seaborne invasion force. Desig- 
nated as the Expeditionary Force, it was to be made up of aircraft carriers and 
other warships organized as the Air Support Force, and the Amphibious Force 
consisting of warships, transports, and the troops who would make the landing. 
Rear Adm, Richmond K. Turner was to command the Amphibious Force of 
the Expeditionary Force. Fletcher and Turner were present at Pearl Harbor 
during the first days of July. Turner, by a previous appointment, was then on 
his way to the South Pacific to take command, under Admiral Ghormley, of 
the South Pacific Amphibious Force. Nimitz, Fletcher, Turner and their staffs 
discussed the forthcoming invasion at this time. The Japanese were known to 
be building the airstrip on Guadalcanal, and at these conferences it was sug- 
gested that Guadalcanal be specified as an objective. This possibility was made 
known to Admiral Ghormley on 7 July. 41 

Admiral Ghormley had formally assumed his duties as Commander of the 
South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force (COMSOPAC) on 19 June, with 
headquarters at Auckland, New Zealand. He flew from Auckland to Mel- 
bourne on 7 July to confer with General MacArthur, as the Joint Chiefs had 
directed. The general and admiral discussed the directive and agreed on the 
obvious necessity for invading Guadalcanal as well as Tulagi. Their plans and 
recommendations, subject to change after Fletcher and Turner arrived in the 
South Pacific, were immediately radioed to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. MacAr- 
thur and Ghormley strongly objected to the immediate launching of Task One, 
which they defined as an orthodox landing in the Guadalcanal-Tulagi area. 

" COMINCH to CINCPAC, 2100 of 2 Jul 42. SOPAC War Diary. 
40 Rad, WDCSA to CINC SWPA, CM-OUT-0677, 3 Jul 42. 
"CINCPAC to COMSOPAC, 0125 of 7 Jul 42. SOPAC War Diary. 



20 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



There were enough torcts available for Task One, they believed, but only one 
amphibious division had been assigned, and heavy casualties might render it 
incapable of engaging in all the subsequent invasions which were needed to 
carry out the remaining two tasks. Not enough ships to move all the necessary 
troops were available. A third major difficulty arose from the fact that the suc- 
cessful execution of Task One would require that the ships of the South Pacific 
Amphibious Force remain for perhaps two days in the Guadalcanal-Tulagi 
area, beyond range of Allied land-based aircraft and exposed to attacks by Japa- 
nese warships. Southwest Pacific aircraft were too few in number to prevent 
enemy air and surface forces from attacking the invasion force, and the aircraft 
carriers would be exposed to attacks by land-based aircraft. 

It would be difficult, they believed, for the attacking forces to surprise the 
enemy, whose patrol planes could cover the approaches to the target. In addi- 
tion, the Japanese were known to have been increasing their efforts to develop 
the airdromes at Rabaul, Lae, Salamaua, and Buka as well as on Guadalcanal. 
To begin Task One without the assurance of sufficient aircraft for complete 
support of each succeeding operation would be dangerous, as the Japanese had 
discovered in the Coral Sea and Midway battles. They believed that once Task 
One had been started it would be necessary for Tasks Two and Three to follow 
it quickly. If Rabaul, which could be strengthened by forces from Truk, were 
to remain in enemy hands throughout Task One, the attacking Allied forces 
might be destroyed. 

General MacArthur and Admiral Ghormley therefore recommended that 
the Allied forces continue to move into the New Hebrides and the Santa Cruz 
Islands, but that Task One be postponed until the South and Southwest Pacific 
forces were strengthened to such an extent that Tasks One, Two, and Three 
could be executed in one continuous movement. 42 

The Joint Chiefs of Staff rejected this recommendation on 10 July. The 
Japanese development of positions in the Solomons and their southward ad- 
vance had to be halted immediately, regardless of the disadvantages. The Brit- 
ish Eastern Fleet would not be able to take part, the Joint Chiefs explained, but 
Admiral Nimitz was sending more naval forces than had been planned origin- 
ally and Army B-17's of the nth Bombardment Group would be sent from 
Hawaii to Ghormley's area. In addition, the Army had decided to speed the 
movement of replacement aircraft to the Pacific, and would do its best to follow 

42 Disp, CINC SWPA and COMSOPAC to WDCSA, COMINCH, CINCPAC, 1012 of 8 Jul 42, CCR 82 S, 
in ABC 370.26 Sec I (7-8-42), in Plans and Opns Div, GSUSA. 



THE STRATEGIC DECISION 



21 



up Task One with appropriate measures. 43 Guadalcanal and Tulagi were to be 
invaded at once. 

It is clear that the Joint Chiefs and the Pacific commanders knew precisely 
the strategic advantages that would be gained for the Allies by the seizure of 
Guadalcanal and Tulagi. An immediate invasion, which would halt the ad- 
vancing Japanese and secure for the Allies an advanced base from which part 
of the offensive operations against Rabaul could be mounted, would enable the 
Allies to capitalize on the victory at Midway by wresting the initiative from the 
Japanese. 44 Equally clear is the fact that the Joint Chiefs realized that invading 
Guadalcanal and Tulagi before sufficient forces could be mustered for the ad- 
vance against Rabaul would be an operation in which the margin for error 
would be perilously small. 

" WDCSA and COMINCH to CINC SWPA and COMSOPAC, 2100 of 10 Jul 42. SOP AC War Diary. 

" On 12 July, the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggested the possibility that the offensive against Rabaul might 
be followed by an advance northward from the . . TRUK-GUAM-SAIPAN line, and/or northwestward 
through the Malay barrier and Borneo to the Philippines." Memo, Gen Marshall, Admiral King, Gen Arnold 
for the Pres, 12 Jul 42, sub: Pacific Opns. ASF docs in Special Collections subsection, Hist Rec Br, DRB, AGO. 



CHAPTER II 

Plans for Invasion 



As Admiral King has written, "Because of the urgency of seizing and occu- 
pying Guadalcanal, planning was not up to the usual thorough standard." 1 
Admirals Nimitz and Ghormley had begun planning in June, but the planes 
and men which were to make the attack were scattered from the South Pacific 
to California. 

General MacArthur's and Admiral Ghormley's assertion that there were 
few troops available for beginning the attack was well founded. Besides the 
three divisions in Australia and the elements of the ist Marine Division in New 
Zealand, there were several units in the South Pacific assigned to the defense of 
bases along the line of communications. Two Army divisions were in the area; 
the 37th Division was in the Fijis, the Americal Division in New Caledonia. 
The 7th Marines, a regiment detached from the ist Marine Division, was in 
Samoa. Army infantry and artillery units were at Bora Bora; the 147th Infan- 
try, formerly of the 37th Division, was at Tongatabu. Some Army, Navy, and 
Marine Corps troops were holding Efate in the New Hebrides and part of the 
Efate force was building an airfield at Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides. 

The majority of the Army troops in the South Pacific had been dispatched 
prior to the establishment of the South Pacific Area; they had been adminis- 
tered directly by the War Department and supplied directly by the San Fran- 
cisco Port of Embarkation. The organization of the South Pacific Area, the 
commitment of more Army Air Forces units, and the imminence of the forth- 
coming campaign led the War Department to organize these forces into a 
single command— the U. S. Army Forces in the South Pacific Area (USAFISPA). 
On 14 July Maj. Gen. Millard F. Harmon was appointed its commanding gen- 
eral (COMGENSOPAC) with the concurrence of the Navy. 2 

1 Admiral E. J. King, Our Navy at War: A Report to the Secretary of the Navy Covering Our Peacetime 
Navy and Our Wartime Navy and including Combat Operations up to March i, 1944 (U.S. News, March 
I944)>P- 34- 

2 History of the United State* Army Forces in the South Pacific Area during World War II: 30 March 
1942-1 August 1944 (4 vols.), Pt. I, I, Ch. I, passim. Hereafter cited as Hist USAFISPA. A copy of the manu- 
script is filed in the Hist Div, SSUSA. 



PLANS FOR INVASION 



23 



CHART NO, 1 

Organization of South Pacific Forces at the Inception of Tasl( One 




south 

PACIFIC 
AMPHIBIOUS 
FORCE 
TF 62 



SOUTH 
PACIFIC 
NAVAL 



HQ. US- 
ARMY FORCES. 
SOUTH 
PACIFIC * 



SOUTH 
PACIFIC 
AIRCRAFT 1 
TFGi 



SOUTH 
PACIFIC 
ISLAND 



SOUTH 
PACIFIC 
SERVICE 
5Q0N 



Function*) 



MARINE 
UNITS FOR 
OPERATIONS 



NAVAL 
UNITS FOR 
OPERATIONS 



ARMY 
UNITS FOR 
OPERATIONS * 



*Hq, U. S. Army Forces, South Pacific, exercised administrative control over Army units. 



Prior to his appointment as Commanding General of U. S. Army Forces in 
the South Pacific, Harmon, who was one of the senior officers of the Army Air 
Forces and a pioneer in military aviation, had been Chief of the Air Staff. Born 
in 1888, he was graduated from the U. S. Military Academy in 1912, and en- 
tered the Aviation Section of the Army Signal Corps while in the Philippines. 
After active service in France during World War I, he attended the Army 
Command and General Staff School and the Army War College, taught Mili- 
tary science and tactics at the University of Washington in Seattle, and served 
with various training and tactical air units until the end of 1940. In January 
1 94 1 he was sent to Britain as an air observer. Returning to the United States 
four months later, he was made a major general in July and in January 1942 
he became Chief of the Air Staff. 

General Harmon, under Ghormley's command, was to be responsible for 
the administration and supply of Army units in the South Pacific. His letter of 
appointment directed him to advise the Area Commander, but gave him no 
operational or tactical authority. On 26 July he assumed his duties, with head- 
quarters first at Auckland and later, adjacent to Ghormley's, at Noumea, New 



2 4 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Caledonia. His services proved so valuable that both Admiral Ghormley and 
his successor consulted him in the planning and execution of the Guadalcanal 
and subsequent South Pacific campaigns. 

Despite the fact that there were about 32,000 Army ground troops in the 
South Pacific, 3 they could not be freely used for reinforcement of the marines 
in the attack against Guadalcanal. There was not enough shipping space in the 
South Pacific for free movement, and the divisions holding the Fijis and New 
Caledonia could not be moved until replacements were available, or until the 
Japanese offensive threat had been eliminated. 4 

Little was then known about the objective. The Solomons are a thinly 
populated and undeveloped area. Lying about 800 miles east of New Guinea, 
the Solomons form a double chain of tropical, mountainous islands extending 
from latitude 5 degrees South to latitude 12 degrees 30 minutes South, from 
northwest to southeast, and from longitude 155 degrees East to longitude 170 
degrees East. They include several hundred islands, with a land area of 18,670 
square miles. The largest in the northeastern chain are Buka, Bougainville, 
Choiseul, Santa Isabel, and Malaita. The southwestern islands consist of the 
Shortland, Treasury, and New Georgia groups, the Russells, Guadalcanal, 
Florida, San Cristobal, and Rennell. 

The Solomon Islands chain was divided politically. Bougainville and Buka 
were part of the Australian Mandated Territory of New Guinea. The rest of 
the islands formed the British Solomon Islands Protectorate. A British district 
officer, responsible to the Resident Commissioner at Tulagi, administered civil 
affairs on each island in the protectorate. The Resident Commissioner reported 
to the High Commissioner for the Western Pacific in the Fijis, who in turn was 
responsible to the Colonial Office in London. Economic development had been 
slight. Lever Brothers, with local headquarters at Gavutu, had been operating 
fairly extensive coconut plantations since before the war, and the Burns-Philp 
South Seas Company, Ltd., controlled island shipping. The few white residents 
before the war were government officials, planters, missionaries, and their fami- 
lies. Some, including the Resident Commissioner and several district officers, 
missionaries, and nuns, had remained in the Solomons during the Japanese 
occupation. The government officials, like the coastwatchers, had withdrawn to 
the hills. The missionaries and nuns, with some .exceptions, had not been mo- 
lested, but had continued to operate their stations under surveillance. 

'ibid., Pt. Ill, I, 441. 

4 COMSOPAC to CINCPAC, 0414 of 13 July 42. SOP AC War Diary. 



PLANS FOR INVASION 



25 



The native inhabitants are Melanesians of primitive culture. Noted in for- 
mer years for their ferocity, they remained generally loyal to the Allied cause 
and throughout the Solomons campaign assisted the coastwatchers, rescued 
fliers and sailors, and acted as guides, scouts, and laborers. 5 

The Solomons are one of the world's wettest areas. Rainfall in some places 
exceeds 200 inches per year ; from 1922 to 1942, annual rainfall at Tulagi aver- 
aged 164 inches- 6 The tropical temperatures are enervating, ranging daily from 
73 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level. Humidity is high. There are only two 
seasons, the wet and the dry. Northwest monsoons bring almost daily rain dur- 
ing the wet season from November to March. The term dry is relative, for 
southeast trade winds bring frequent rains during the dry season. 

There are few good harbors, but the narrow, restricted channels between 
the islands are usually calm. In the southern Solomons the best anchorage is 
Tulagi Harbor between Tulagi and Florida Islands. Tulagi, Gavutu, and Ta- 
nambogo Island, near Gavutu in Tulagi Harbor, all possessed some docks, jet- 
ties, and machine shops. There are few clear, flat areas suitable for airfields 
except on Malaita, Bo ugainville, New Georgia, and the grassy plain on Gua- 
dalcanal's north coast. (Map IV) 

Between Guadalcanal and Malaita lies the smaller island of Florida 
(Nggela), which is separated from Guadalcanal by Sealark Channel. Reefs jut 
above the water to make the channel north of the center of Guadalcanal very 
narrow. The waters between the southern reefs and Guadalcanal are called 
Lengo Channel; those between the northern reefs and Florida are Nggela 
Channel- 7 Between the southeast part of Guadalcanal and Malaita is Indis- 
pensable Strait, and at the northern end of Sealark Channel, between Guadal- 
canal and Florida, lies the small symmetrical island of Savo. 



Air and Naval Plans 



Admiral Nirnitz Plan 

By late June Admiral Nimitz had decided to send five Marine air squad- 
rons to the South Pacific to take part in the campaign. Airfield construction 

5 See (British) Central Office of Information, Among Those Present: The Official Storv of the Pacific 
Islands at War (London, 1946). 

a R. W. Robson (ed.), The Pacific Islands Year Book, (4th ed., Sydney, 1942), p. 131. 

7 For simplicity, Sealark Channel will be used throughout this volume to refer to all the waters between 
Tulagi and Guadalcanal. 




MAJ. GEN. MILLARD F. HARMON, appointed to command the Army forces in the South 
Pacific Area, discusses a phase of the Guadalcanal campaign with Brig. Gen. Nathan F. 
Twining in New Caledonia. 



PLANS FOR INVASION 



27 



in the South Pacific was, therefore, to be given a high priority. 8 As the five 
squadrons, all consisting of short-range aircraft, would have to be ferried across 
the Pacific on an aircraft carrier, the pilots would first have to train for carrier 
operations. 9 Following Admiral Nimitz' request that more Army bombers be 
sent to the South Pacific, General Marshall authorized the creation of two 
Mobile Air Forces for the Pacific Theater — one in the Southwest Pacific Area 
and one in the Pacific Ocean Areas. Each was composed of one B-17 heavy 
bombardment group. 10 The Pacific Ocean Areas Mobile Air Force might be 
used anywhere within the Pacific Ocean Areas at the Joint Chiefs' discretion. 
The nth Heavy Bombardment Group, then in Hawaii, was selected as the 
Pacific Ocean Areas Mobile Air Force on 16 July, and within four days its four 
squadrons had taken off for New Caledonia. 11 

To provide more troops for the landings, Admiral King had suggested 
that the reinforced 2d Marines (of the 2d Marine Division), then in California, 
be shipped to the South Pacific immediately; Admiral Ghormley agreed, and 
he requested that the 2d Marines be combat-loaded and ready for landing oper- 
ations on arrival. 12 Admiral Nimitz ordered the 2d Marines to be ready to sail 
from San Diego aboard five ships on 1 July. 13 Admiral Nimitz also decided 
to send the 3d (Marine) Defense Battalion from Pearl Harbor to the South 
Pacific to provide antiaircraft and seacoast defense of the target areas. Three 
aircraft carriers, one battleship, and accompanying cruisers and destroyers would 
be available to constitute the naval supporting forces to which would be added 
warships from the Southwest Pacific Area, 

Admiral Nimitz issued his final plan for the attack on 8 July- He ordered 
the South Pacific Force, under Admiral Ghormley, to capture the Santa Cruz 
Islands and the Tulagi-Guadalcanal area in the Solomons. As the Joint Chiefs 
had planned, marines were to capture the areas. Army forces, under Admiral 
Ghormley' s direction, would then relieve the marines. Naval forces would sup- 
port these operations and construct and operate the air bases for both land-based 
planes and seaplanes, and Army aircraft were to operate from the bases as di- 

8 CINCPAC to COMINCH, 0251 of 27 Jun 42. SOP AC War Diary. 

* Disp, CINCPAC to COMINCH, 2251 of 27 Jun 42. OPD 381 SWPA Sec. II Case 80. 

10 Rad, WDCSA to CINC SWPA, CM-OUT-2222, 3 Jul 42. 

11 ACofS for Intelligence, Air Staff, Hist Div, AAF Hist Studies No. 35: Guadalcanal and the Origins 
of the Thirteenth Air Force, p. 2. 

12 COMINCH to CINCPAC, 1415 of 27 Jun 42; COMSOPAC to CINCPAC, 0607 of 28 June 42. 
SOPAC War Diary. 

18 2301 of 27 Jun 42 (no addressee). SOPAC War Diary. 



28 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



rected. A seaplane base, providing for thirty planes, was to be built at Tulagi. 
Air bases, each large enough to support four air squadrons, were to be built 
both at Guadalcanal and at Ndeni in the Santa Cruz Islands. The Navy was to 
be responsible for maintaining radio stations^ harbor facilities, inshore patrol, 
port control, hospitals, underwater defenses, and roads and bridges at the bases. 
A 6o-day level of subsistence supplies and ammunition and a 90-day supply of 
building materials were to be maintained. The Navy was to furnish materials 
for the construction of airfields, bases, and harbors. 14 
Admiral Ghormley 's Plan 

The problems facing the South Pacific commanders in preparing for the 
invasion were tremendous, and time was short. Admiral Ghormley, acting on 
the first orders from Admiral King before the issuance of the Joint Chiefs' di- 
rective and Admiral Nimitz' final plan, had called the commanding general of 
the 1 st Marine Division from Wellington to his headquarters at Auckland on 
26 June. The 1st Division commander and part of his staff began conferring 
with Admiral Ghormley on that date, and were joined the next day by Rear 
Adm. John S. McCain, the commander of all Allied land-based aircraft in the 
South Pacific (COMAIRSOPAC). 15 Not all the commanders who were to 
take part in the operation were present. Vice Adm. Frank J. Fletcher and Rear 
Adm. Richmond K. Turner, who were to command the Expeditionary and 
Amphibious Forces, had not then reached the South Pacific. Admiral Ghorm- 
ley informed the Marine officers of the plan to invade the Solomon and Santa 
Cruz Islands, and ordered them to prepare plans and load ships in Wellington 
for the invasion. Detailed planning in the South Pacific had thus been initiated 
prior to the issuance of the directive on 2 July; the directive did not necessitate 
any basic changes in Ghormley's or the marines' concepts of the operation. 

Admiral Ghormley issued his Operation Plan No. 1-42 on 16 July 1942. It 
was to govern the execution of Task One which was to be divided into three 
phases. The first would be a rehearsal in the Fiji Islands; the second would be 
the seizure and occupation of Tulagi and Guadalcanal. The projected occupa- 
tion of Ndeni in the Santa Cruz Islands would be the third and final phase. 

Operation Plan No. 1-42 organized two forces, Task Forces 61 and 63. The 
Expeditionary Force of eighty-two ships (designated as Task Force 61), was 

14 CINCPAC, File A4-3/FF 12/A16 (6) Ser 01994, Basic Supporting Plan for Advanced Air Bases at 
Santa Cruz Island and Tulagi-Guadalcanal, 8 Jul 42, in Plans and Opns Div, GSUSA. 

16 Rear Adm. Aubrey W. Fitch replaced McCain as COMAIRSOPAC on 21 September 1942. 



PLANS FOR INVASION 



2 9 



CHART NO. 2 
Organization of Forces for Tasl^ One 



COMSOPAC 
Viet Adm R, L. Ghormley 



£ 



LAND-BASED AIRCRAFT 
TF 6} 
R**r Adm J. £ McCmi* 
(7 Groupi) 



I 



EXPEDITIONARY, FORCE 
TF61 
Vk< Adm FJ. Ftotbtr 



AMPHIBIOUS 
FORCE 
R*mt Adm R. K T*r**r 



MINESWEEPER 
GROUP 



SCREENING 
GROUP 



LANDING 
FORCE 
(Is: Mir Dir. 
Reiof) 




AIR SUPPORT 

FORCE 
SU*r Adm L Ney*t 
ftC-ftierGTOupj) 



TRANSPORT 
GROUP X 



DIV RESERVE 
AND NDENI 



GUADALCANAL 
FIRE SUPPORT 
GROUP 



TRANSPORT 
GROUP Y 



TULAG1 
FIRE SUPPORT 
GROUP 



placed under the command of Admiral Fletcher. The main body of warships 
of Task Force 61 came from the Pacific and Atlantic Fleets, while a second 
came from the naval forces of the Southwest Pacific. The third component as- 
signed to Task Force 61 was the amphibious force, which included the marines 
who were to make the landings. Admiral Turner was to assume command of 
the South Pacific Amphibious Force on 18 July. 16 The second force, Task Force 
63, consisted of all the Allied land-based aircraft in the South Pacific under 
Admiral McCain, 

Analyzing the strength and capabilities of the enemy forces which Task 
Forces 61 and 63 were to attack, Admiral Ghormley anticipated that the Japa- 

ia Commander, Amphibious Force, South Pacific Force, Pacific Fleet (TF62), War Diary, Aug 42-30 Sep 
42, 1 8 Jul 42. A copy of this diary, hereafter cited as COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, is in the Office of 
Naval Records and Library. 



3° 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



nese garrisons in the Solomons and Bismarcks might soon be reinforced. The 
Japanese could shuttle their aircraft between the Marshall Islands, New Brit- 
ain, and the East Indies. Elements of the 4th Fleet had already been operating in 
the vicinity of the Solomons and Bismarcks, and the addition of a submarine 
division might be expected. Rabaul was known to be a major air base, and sea- 
plane bases were known to be in use at Gizo, Rekata Bay, Faisi, Kieta, Buka, 
and Gavutu. Two planes had been based at Tulagi, thirteen at Gavutu. The 
runway under construction at Lunga Point was not thought to have been com- 
pleted. 

Ghormley estimated that about 3>ioo Japanese troops were in the Tulagi- 
Guadalcanal area. He believed that, of these, one thousand Special Naval Land- 
ing Forces and pioneers were stationed on Guadalcanal at Cape Esperance, the 
Segilau River, Lunga Point, Tenaru, and Taivu Point on the north coast. It 
was assumed that there were at least six antiaircraft guns at both Lunga Point 
and Kukum, with more at Taivu Point to the east. Ghormley considered, cor- 
rectly, that the south coast was not held in any strength. 

After assembling and rehearsing in the Fijis, the Expeditionary Force 
(Task Force 61) was to capture and occupy Tulagi and near-by areas, includ- 
ing that part of Guadalcanal most suitable for the construction of airfields. The 
tentative date for D Day set by the Joint Chiefs of Staff — 1 August — could not 
be met. On 16 July Ghormley notified Admiral Nimitz that the late arrival of 
the 1st Marine Division's second echelon at Wellington, New Zealand, coupled 
with the delay in loading caused by bad weather in Wellington, would necessitate 
postponing the target date until 7 August. 17 The date could not be postponed 
further, however, lest the Japanese complete their airstrip for use against the 
Allied forces. 18 

Once Tulagi and the landing field on Guadalcanal had been taken, the 
Expeditionary Force would occupy Ndeni, and troops were to be ready to work 
on airfields on Guadalcanal and Ndeni immediately. Airfield construction ma- 
teriel and troops would be sent forward as soon as possible. To free the Am- 
phibious Force for further offensive action, occupation troops were to be 
dispatched to relieve the marines. Operation Plan No. 1-42 did not specifically 
designate the forces to effect the relief and occupation but stated that orders 
would be issued at a later date. 

The land-based aircraft of Task Force 63 were to support and cover the 

1T COMSOPAC to CINCPAC, 0612 of 16 Jul 42. SOPAC War Diary. 
18 COMINCH to COMSOPAC, 1830 of 28 Jul 42. SOPAC War Diary. 



PLANS FOR INVASION 



31 



movements of the Expeditionary Force, arrange special missions at the request 
of Task Force 61, and carry out their regular scouting missions. Task Force 63 
was to cover the Amphibious Force's approach to Tulagi and Guadalcanal and 
the landing there, as well as to execute air attacks by arrangement with Task 
Force 61. Amphibious patrol bombers were to patrol temporarily from Ndeni, 
which had not been occupied by the Japanese, by D minus i, and additional 
patrol planes would scout from the east coast of Malaita on D plus i. 19 After 
the conclusion of the Guadalcanal phase, Task Force 63 would cover the occu- 
pation of Ndeni by the landing force. 

Admiral Ghormley, announcing his intention to proceed from Auckland 
to Noumea aboard his flagship Argonne about D minus 5, stated that he would 
arrange a conference between representatives of the commanders of the Expe- 
ditionary and Amphibious Forces and of the South Pacific land-based aircraft 
to settle the final details of air support and to co-ordinate the various air efforts. 
The commander of Task Force 63 was also ordered to arrange for air scouting 
by Southwest Pacific Air Forces. 

Logistical plans for the operation took into account the lack of good bases 
in the South Pacific Area. During the rehearsal, all vessels were to take on fuel 
as the tactical situation permitted from tankers at Noumea and the Fijis, and 
from tanks on shore in the Fijis and Espiritu Santo and Efate in the New 
Hebrides. Fleet units were to take on full loads of ammunition after the re- 
hearsal Only minor ship repairs could be effected in the South Pacific. Auck- 
land had a dockyard and a drydock, and a floating drydock at Wellington 
could accommodate a heavy cruiser. In addition the repair ship Whitney was 
stationed at Tongatabu, and a salvage tug was to be stationed initially at Es- 
piritu Santo. For major repairs, heavy fleet units would have to go to Pearl 
Harbor. 

Fleet units would carry sufficient provisions to be self-sustaining, while the 
Amphibious Force would embark sixty days' supply and ten units of fire for 
the marines. Fresh foods would be supplied to the Amphibious Force if enough 
ships were available. 

Once they were unloaded, ships of the Amphibious Force were to leave 
the Solomon and Santa Cruz Islands and return to Noumea unless directed 
elsewhere, and would be escorted by warships assigned by Admiral Fletcher. 
Returning ships would carry American wounded to the hospital ship Solace at 

18 COMSOPAC to COMAIRSOPAC, 1300 of 20 Jul 42 in SOPAC War Diary, altered the plan. The 
original had been D minus 2 for Ndeni and D Day for Malaita. 



3 2 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Noumea, which would either retain the wounded on board or distribute them 
among the Army hospitals at Noumea and the Fijis, or take them to the naval 
base hospital at Auckland. 20 
Admiral McCains Plan 

Toward the end of July, when Admiral McCain's tactical plan for Task 
Force 63 was completed, South Pacific air strength had increased and the air 
bases had been improved. Two companies of the i82d Infantry and one engi- 
neer company of the Americal Division had occupied Efate in the New 
Hebrides on 18 March to build an airfield. Marine Corps and naval personnel 
followed these forces, until by May there were 7,500 on the island. On 28 May 
500 men of the Efate garrison had occupied Espiritu Santo, 145 miles to the 
north. Admiral Ghormley had ordered the construction of a bomber strip on 
Espiritu Santo, to be completed by 28 July, in time to support the invasion of the 
Solomons. 21 B-i7*s of the nth Heavy Bombardment Group arrived in the area 
during July. The 98th Squadron landed in New Caledonia on 22 July, followed 
by the 42d the next day. The 431st Squadron landed in the Fijis on 24 July, and 
the 26th landed at Efate on 25 July, 22 

By the end of July Task Force 63 consisted of 291 aircraft of various types, 
based on New Caledonia, the Fijis, Tongatabu, Samoa, and Efate, and assigned 
to the defense of those islands. Of the 291 planes, 31 Navy patrol bombers 
(PBY's) were based on New Caledonia and the Fijis. Ninety-three naval fight- 
ers were based on Efate, New Caledonia, the Fijis, Tongatabu, and Samoa. 
Twenty-five naval observation planes were operating from Efate, New Cale- 
donia, Tongatabu, and Samoa, and seventeen Navy scout bombers (SBD's) 
were based in Samoa. 

Ninety-five Army planes were in Task Force 63. Thirty-five Army B-i7*s 
and twenty-two B-26's were stationed at New Caledonia and the Fijis. Thirty- 
eight Army P-400's were also operating from New Caledonia. Nine Vincents, 
eighteen Hudsons, and three Singapores of the Royal New Zealand Air Force 
were based on New Caledonia and the Fijis, 23 

SO COMSOPAC, Opn Plan No. 1-42, A4-3/A 16-3, Ser 0017, 16 Jul 42. Copy No. 120 of Operation 
Plan 1-42 is in the Office of Naval Records and Library. Code names assigned were as follows: Task One, 
PESTILENCE; rehearsal, DOVETAIL; Guadalcanal-Tulagi invasion, WATCHTOWER; Ndeni occupation, 
HUDDLE. The code name of Guadalcanal was CACTUS; that of Tulagi, RINGBOLT. 

"COMSOPAC to COMAIRSOPAC, 2314 of 2 Jul 42; COMSOPAC to CG Efate, 2538 of 5 Jul 42, 
SOPAC War Diary. 

23 nth Bomb Gp (H), Hist, p. 4, in Archives, AF Hist Off. 

" COMAIRSOPAC, Opn Plan No. 1-42, A4-3/A16-3, Ser 0016, 25 Jul 42. A photostatic copy of this 
plan is in the Office of Naval Records and Library. 



PLANS FOR INVASION 



33 



Admiral McCain issued his orders on 25 July. He divided Task Force 63 
into seven task groups. One group, consisting of the 69th (Army) Bombard- 
ment Squadron, the 67th (Army) Fighter Squadron, a New Zealand Air Force 
Hudson Squadron, and two PBY's, was to scout over 400-mile sectors from New 
Caledonia. A second group, consisting of the nth (Army) Heavy Bombard- 
ment Group, to be based on New Caledonia, Efate, Espiritu Santo, and the 
Fijis, was to scout between New Caledonia and the Solomons and over and 
west of the Solomons. It was this group which carried out bombing attacks on 
Guadalcanal and Tulagi prior to D Day. The third group, consisting of the 
seaplane tender Curtiss and attached patrol planes, was to move part of its 
patrol planes to Espiritu Santo. Beginning on D minus 2 the planes based in 
Espiritu Santo were to search both east and west of the Solomons, while the 
remaining patrol planes moved from Noumea to Ndeni and Espiritu Santo. 
The fourth group, composed of the seaplane tender MacFarland and attached 
patrol bombers, was to move to Ndeni to inaugurate the air searches northeast 
of the Solomons on D minus 1. The fifth, composed of the seaplane tender 
Mac\inac and attached patrol planes, was to proceed to the east coast of Ma- 
laita on D minus 3. The sixth group, consisting of Marine Fighting Squadron 
212 and Scouting Squadron D-14, was to send three scouts to Espiritu Santo, 
and to aid the bombardment effort from Efate. The final group, consisting of 
Marine Observation Squadron 251, was to assist the bombardment effort from 
Espiritu Santo, 

The air searches of Task Force 63 would thus cover the general area be- 
tween New Caledonia and the Solomons, over the Solomons, east to Ndeni, and 
south to the Fijis. General Mac Arthur agreed to have Southwest Pacific air 
forces patrol the northern and western approaches to the Solomons during 
Task One. Prior to D minus 5, Southwest Pacific air forces were to reconnoiter 
over eastern New Guinea, Lorengau, Kavieng, Buka, Ontong Java, and Tu- 
lagi. Thereafter no Southwest Pacific planes were to fly east of longitude 158 
degrees 15 minutes East (a line just west of Guadalcanal and east of New 
Georgia, Choiseul, and Bougainville, in the Solomons group), and latitude 15 
degrees South unless requested by Ghormley. From D minus 5 to D plus 4, 
Southwest Pacific aircraft were to conduct daily reconnaissance flights over 
eastern New Guinea, Kavieng, and the easternmost point of New Georgia, and 
combat aircraft were to be ready to strike any Japanese naval vessels within a 
550-mile radius of Port Moresby. From D Day to D plus 4, when the transports 
and cargo ships of the Amphibious Force would be unloading at Guadalcanal 



34 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



and Tulagi, Allied aircraft would thus be interdicting Japanese aerial opera- 
tions in the Rabaul-Kavieng area. At the same time Buka was to be attacked to 
prevent the Japanese from refueling there. During this critical period, short- 
range aircraft were to attack Lae and Salamaua periodically to prevent those 
bases from sending aircraft to reinforce Rabaul. 24 
Admiral Fletcher s Plan 

The Expeditionary Force Commander, Admiral Fletcher, issued his Opera- 
tion Order No. 1-42 to Task Force 61 on 28 July. Task Force 61 was divided 
into two groups, the Air Support Force and the Amphibious Force. The Air 
Support Force, under the command of Rear Adm. Leigh Noyes, consisted of 
twenty-six warships and five tankers. This group was subdivided into three 
units, each built around an aircraft carrier. The first included the Saratoga, two 
heavy cruisers, and five destroyers. The carrier Enterprise, the battleship North 
Carolina, one heavy cruiser, one light antiaircraft cruiser, and five destroyers 
constituted another unit. The third unit was composed of the carrier Wasp, two 
heavy cruisers, six destroyers, and five tankers. 25 

The Amphibious Force, under the command of Admiral Turner, consisted 
of twenty-three transports and twenty-eight warships. Turner's force was com- 
posed of the South Pacific Amphibious Force, the naval forces from the South- 
west Pacific, and three heavy cruisers, one light antiaircraft cruiser, and six 
destroyers from the Central Pacific, 

The Amphibious Force was to sail from the Fijis to a point about 400 nauti- 
cal miles south of the west tip of Guadalcanal, and then to sail north at 12 
knots toward the objectives. This course would keep the force well away from 
Japanese-held islands until time for the assault. 

As the Amphibious Force would be landing its troops on islands which lay 
beyond range of fighter planes from the nearest Allied bases, it was to receive 
tactical air support directly from the Air Support Force which would also exe- 
cute necessary aerial reconnaissance. It was apparently Fletcher's intention to 
withdraw the carriers prior to D plus 3, somewhat short of the time required 
for the Amphibious Force to unload its ships completely. Admiral Ghormley 
was aware of this intention. Emphasizing the need for continuous air cover 
over the target area, he stated that if the airfield at Guadalcanal was opera- 
tional he intended to base there squadrons from the carriers. These squadrons 

COMSOWESPAC (CINC SWPA) to COMSOPAC, 1034 of 19 Jul 42. SOPAC War Diary. 
2G See also ONI, USN, Combat Narratives: Solomon Islands Campaign, I, The Landing in the Solomons, 
7-8 August 1942 (Washington, 1943). 



PLANS FOR INVASION 



35 



would then be relieved by land-based fighters sent in from Efate with extra 
gasoline tanks. 26 But Admiral McCain pointed out that ten days would be re- 
quired to fit the extra tanks to the Navy F4F fighters. 27 

The advancing Amphibious Force was to be further protected by sub- 
marines operating in the vicinity of major Japanese bases. Five submarines of 
the Pacific Fleet were to cover the Truk area from 22 July to 20 August, while 
submarines from the Southwest Pacific were to patrol the waters near Rabaul. 28 

Admiral Ghormley's plan provided that, on the withdrawal of the Air 
Support Force, the Amphibious Force was to secure air support from Task 
Force 63. It should be noted, however, that the distances separating Espiritu 
Santo and Efate from Guadalcanal would prevent Task Force 63 from provid- 
ing fighter cover for the marines on Guadalcanal until the airfield there could 
be developed enough to serve as a base. The Amphibious Force was to furnish 
escorts for its transports returning to Noumea after unloading. Damaged ships 
were authorized to return either to Noumea or to put in to other convenient 
friendly ports. 29 
Admiral Turner s Plan 

Like General Harmon, the officer assigned to command the Amphibious 
Force, Rear Adm. Richmond K. Turner, was also an aviator, but he had taken 
up flying at a comparatively late date. In 1908 when Turner was graduated from 
the U. S. Naval Academy as a passed midshipman, he held fifth place in a class 
of 201. Commissioned an ensign in 1910, he studied naval ordnance and engi- 
neering in the years prior to World War I. During the war he was a gunnery 
officer aboard several battleships, and in 1925 and 1926 he was on duty with the 
Navy Bureau of Ordnance. He completed naval aviation pilot training at Pensa- 
cola in August 1927, and commanded air squadrons for nearly two years. From 
1929 to 1931 he served in the Plans Division of the Bureau of Aeronautics, and 
in 1932 he was a technical adviser to the United States delegation at the General 
Disarmament Conference at Geneva. He then served aboard the carrier Sara- 
toga, and after graduation from the Naval War College in 1936 he served on the 

" COMSOPAC to CTF 61, 0240 of 2 Aug 42. SOP AC War Diary. 

"* COMAIRSOPAC to COMSOPAC, 1436 of 4 Aug 42. SOP AC Wax Diary. 

" COMSOPAC Opn Plan No. 1-42. 

" CTF 61, Opn Ord No. 1-42, Opn WATCHTOWER, Ser 0032 N, 28 Jul 42, A photostatic copy of this 
order is in the Office of Naval Records and Library. The numerical designations assigned to the component 
units may be confusing. What had been task forces of the Pacific Fleet became task units of one group of TP 
61. The amphibious force, made up of two task forces, was given a task group number. 



36 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



staff there for two years. In 1939 he commanded the cruiser Astoria when she 
carried the remains of Ambassador Hirosi Saito to Japan. In 1940 Turner be- 
came Director of the War Plans Division of the Office of the Chief of Naval 
Operations, and in early 1942, a change in the organization of the Office of 
Naval Operations gave him the title of Assistant Chief of Staff to the Com- 
mander in Chief of the U. S. Fleet. He held that post, which was also concerned 
with war plans, until he was ordered to the Pacific in the summer of 1942, at 
the age of fifty-seven. 

Admiral Turner, who after conferring with Admiral Nimitz at Pearl Har- 
bor had reached Wellington on 15 July, issued Operation Plan No. A3-42 to 
the Amphibious Force on 30 July. He divided his force into eight groups: 
Transport Group X, Transport Group Y, the Guadalcanal Fire Support Group, 
the Tulagi Fire Support Group, the Minesweeper Group, the Screening Group, 
the Air Support Group, and the Landing Force Group, which consisted of the 
1st Marine Division, Reinforced (less the 7th Marines). 

Transport Group X, assigned to the Guadalcanal landing, consisted of four 
transport divisions. Two of the divisions were each composed of three trans- 
ports and one cargo ship; the third, of two transports and one cargo ship; and 
the fourth, of one transport and three cargo ships. Transport Group Y, assigned 
to the landings in the Tulagi area, consisted of two transport divisions — one 
made up of four transports and the other of four destroyers previously converted 
to troop carriers (APD's). Four more ships, the Zeilin and the Betelgeuse and 
their escorting destroyers, were to transport the 3d Defense Battalion from Pearl 
Harbor. 

The Guadalcanal Fire Support Group consisted of three fire sections com- 
posed of one heavy cruiser and two observation planes each, and of two fire 
sections of two destroyers each. The Tulagi Fire Support Group consisted of 
one light antiaircraft cruiser and two destroyers. There were five minesweepers 
in the Minesweeping Group. 

The Amphibious Force's second-in-command, Rear Adm. V. A. C. Crutch- 
ley, R.N., commanded the Screening Group. It consisted of three Australian 
cruisers, one U. S. heavy cruiser, nine destroyers, two fighter squadrons based 
on the aircraft carriers, but detached to the Screening Group on D Day, and 
eight observation seaplanes from the cruisers. The Air Support Group was 
made up of one fighter and one dive bomber squadron, plus one additional 
fighter and one additional dive bomber squadron for the initial mission, all 
drawn from the carriers. 



PLANS FOR INVASION 



37 



The Landing Force was led by the commanding general of the ist Marine 
Division. It was divided into two groups — the Guadalcanal Group directly 
under the division commander, and the Northern Group under the assistant 
division commander. Six observation planes from the cruisers Astoria and 
Quincy were assigned to the Guadalcanal Group, and two planes from the 
cruiser Vincennes were assigned to the Northern Group. 

Admiral Turner, in his analysis of enemy strength against which the Am- 
phibious Force would have to contend, estimated that at least 150 Japanese 
planes were based in the Bismarck-New Guinea area, and that 11 Japanese 
cruisers, 13 destroyers, 15 submarines, 12 patrol bombers, 15 or 17 transports, 
and a number of motor torpedo boats were available. The Amphibious Force 
was to expect attacks by the planes based at fields from Rabaul to Salamaua. 
Admiral Turner warned his force that submarines, motor torpedo boats, 
cruisers, destroyers, and transports might be met around Tulagi. The Guadal- 
canal-Tulagi garrison was estimated to total 7,125, a figure more than double 
Ghormley's. It was believed that 1,850 men constituted Tulagi's garrison, whose 
armament included antiaircraft and coast defense guns, seaplanes, and picket 
boats. The rest of the troops were supposed to be in the Lunga area on Guadal- 
canal, which was protected by antiaircraft and coast defense guns. 

The Amphibious Force was to assume attack dispositions on D minus 1 
and to arrive in the transport areas off Guadalcanal and Tulagi before sunrise 
of D Day. The main landings were to be made on the center of the south coast 
of Tulagi, and on a 1,600-yard-long sandy beach between the Tenaru and Tena- 
vatu Rivers on the north coast of Guadalcanal, about 6,000 yards east of Lunga 
Point. H Hour, the time of the Tulagi landing, was set for 0800 for planning 
purposes. Zero Hour, the time of the Guadalcanal landing, was originally set 
for 0830. Admiral Turner's flagship, the cargo ship McCawley, was the site of 
the ist Marine Division's floating command post. Admiral Crutchley flew his 
flag aboard the Australia. 

The majority of the Amphibious Force — Transport Group X, the Guadal- 
canal Fire Support Group, one fighter squadron and one dive bomber squad- 
ron, and about two regimental combat teams of the ist Marine Division — was 
assigned to the assault on Guadalcanal. Transport Group Y, the Tulagi Fire Sup- 
port Group, one fighter squadron, one dive bomber squadron, and the balance 
of the Marine division, except the reserve, were assigned to the northern attack. 

Air attacks by the planes directly supporting the Amphibious Force were 
to inaugurate operations on D Day. Communication and control between the 



38 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Amphibious Force and the air squadrons were to be effected through an air 
support director group from the carrier force stationed aboard the McCawley. 
An alternate director group was to be aboard the Neville, 

Fifteen minutes before sunrise of D Day, while the transports were ap- 
proaching their unloading areas, one fighter squadron was to destroy any air- 
craft at Lunga or Koli Points on Guadalcanal, and any seaplanes, motor tor- 
pedo boats, or submarines operating near the island's north coast. At the same 
time a second fighter squadron would strike similar targets near Tulagi. Two 
dive bomber squadrons, assisted by the fighters, were to hit antiaircraft and 
coast defense guns on Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and Gavutu. Dive bombers were 
also to cover the assaulting landing craft as they moved toward the beaches. 
Beginning one hour after sunrise on D Day, fighters and dive bombers were to 
maintain stations overhead to protect the transports. 

Admiral Turner ordered the fire support warships to fire at all antiaircraft 
and coast defense guns, to cover the minesweepers, and to be on the alert against 
torpedo boats and submarines. Warships were to take care to avoid interfering 
with landing craft formations, and for the safety of the American troops were 
to use percussion instead of time fuzes against shore targets. The warships were 
to provide naval gunfire liaison teams, equipped with radios, to go ashore with 
the troops. 

The naval gunfire support problem in the Tulagi area was more compli- 
cated than that for Guadalcanal. Numerous near-by islets and promontories of 
Florida Island lie within artillery and even small-arms range of Tulagi. The 
ships* gunfire plan called for supporting fires to be placed, prior to the land- 
ings, on all the islets as well as on parts of Florida and on Tulagi. The ships 
were also to put fire on the radio station on the southeastern part of Tulagi, 
and on Tulagi's antiaircraft positions. Starting at H plus 30 minutes the party 
on shore was to designate targets. The Tulagi Fire Support Group and the air 
squadrons were also to bombard the southeast portion of Tulagi when the 
troops, advancing southeast from the landing beach, had reached the first phase 
line, about two-thirds of the way down the island. The signal from the troops 
for this bombardment would be a green star cluster flare. 

The cruisers of the Guadalcanal Fire Support Group were to cover the area 
between Lunga and Koli Points with fire starting at daylight of D Day. The 
four destroyers were to take stations at Zero minus 30 minutes to serve as control 
and salvage vessels by the landing beach; they were to mark the line of depar- 
ture for the initial boat waves 5,000 yards north of the beach. All ships of the 



PLANS FOR INVASION 



39 



group were to close in by Zero minus 10 minutes to give direct support to the 
landing. From Zero minus 10 to Zero minus 5 minutes, they were to put fire to 
a depth of 200 yards on an area extending 800 yards on either side of the beach, 
using 135 8-inch and 1400 5-inch rounds. Starting at Zero plus 5 minutes, the 
ships were to put fire ashore to assist the advance of the combat teams from the 
landing beach west to the Lunga airfield. 

The liaison planes assigned to the landing forces were to mark the flanks 
of the beaches with smoke at H minus 20 and Zero minus 20 minutes, respec- 
tively. Starting at H plus 1 hour, one plane was to assume station over Guadal- 
canal for observation duty for the field artillery. If ground-to-air radio com- 
munication failed, communications between the ground forces and the liaison 
planes were to be maintained by message drops and ground panel codes. 

Transport Groups X and Y were to land the troops, equipment, and sup- 
plies of the 1st Marine Division on Tulagi and Guadalcanal in accordance with 
that division's plans. The destroyer-transports of Group X would act as control 
and salvage vessels for the boats landing at Tulagi. 

The minesweepers were to sweep the shallows south of Tulagi from H to H 
plus 1 y 2 hours. Three minesweepers were then to sweep the waters from the 
Guadalcanal landing beach east to Taivu Point, while two cleared the area off 
the beach itself. The Transport Group commanders were authorized to move 
their ships in close to the landing beaches once the waters were proved safe. On 
D plus 1, the minesweepers would clear the Kukum Beach area just west of 
Lunga Point. 

The Screening Group would guard the Amphibious Force against surface, 
air, and submarine attacks. One fighter squadron was to cover the transport 
areas during daylight while the ships were unloading. Control would be exer- 
cised through a fighter director group from the carrier forces aboard the Chi- 
cago- During enemy air attacks the fire support warships would come under 
Admiral Crutchley's control to screen the transports with antiaircraft fire, and, 
in the event of surface attack, would also support the Screening Group. On the 
completion of their shore fire missions the fire support warships were to pass to 
Admiral Crutchley's command. During the amphibious phase, one observation 
plane from the Vincennes was to conduct antisubmarine patrols, reporting re- 
sults to the Screening Group. 

Admiral Turner intended to establish Amphibious Force headquarters 
ashore once the objectives had been captured and the amphibious phase ended. 
Communications with the area commander would be maintained through the 



4° 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



ist Marine Division's radio. A small naval force, including a boat repair sec- 
tion, boat crews, and twelve LCM's (landing craft, mechanized), twenty 
LCP(L) , s (landing craft, personnel) and thirty LCV's (landing craft, vehicle), 
was to be established at Guadalcanal and Tulagi. 

It was estimated that the transports would be unloaded and could withdraw 
from the forward area by the night of D plus i. They were to retire under the 
command of Rear Adm. Norman Scott, the commander of the Tulagi Fire 
Support Group. The cargo ships were to be unloaded by D plus 4, and were to 
retire under command of Admiral Crutchley. 

The force for the Santa Cruz operation, consisting of one cruiser, four 
destroyers, four transports, one cargo ship, and the 2d Marines, Reinforced, hav- 
ing formed an integral part of the Amphibious Force for the Guadalcanal- 
Tulagi invasion, was to depart from the Guadalcanal area about D Day to 
occupy and defend Ndeni. 

On completion of the entire operation the air squadrons were to revert to 
Task Force 61. The Amphibious Force organized for the invasions was to be 
dissolved on orders from Admiral Fletcher, but the South Pacific Amphibious 
Force proper would remain in existence, 30 

Landing Force Plans 

The ist Marine Division, which was to make the landings, had been mov- 
ing overseas while the Joint Chiefs of Staff were discussing the attack against 
the Solomons. Brought to war strength at New River, N.C., between 7 Decem- 
ber 1941 and 1 May 1942, it had then been organized around two infantry regi- 
ments, the ist Marines and 5th Marines, and one artillery regiment, the nth 
Marines. The 7th Marines, the third infantry regiment, had been detached for 
service with the ist Provisional Marine Brigade in Samoa. The division had 
engaged in field exercises and combat firing at New River, and during March 
and April each battalion landing team of the 5th Marines and one of the ist 
Marines engaged in 10-day landing exercises at Solomon's Island, Md, 

The division was commanded by a 55-year-old veteran of Caribbean and 
Chinese expeditions, Maj. Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift. After attending the 
University of Virginia for two years, Vandegrift had been commissioned a 2d 
lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1909. He served in Nicaragua, Mexico, and 

80 CTF 62, Opn Plan No. A3-42, Opn WATCHTOWER, Ser 0010, 30 Jul 42- A copy of this plan is in 
the Office of Naval Records and Library. Admirals Fletcher and Turner, who prepared their plans separately, 
used different numbers to designate the amphibious force. Fletcher used 61.2, Turner, 62. 



PLANS FOR INVASION 



41 



Haiti, and in 1916 began two years' service with the Haitian Constabulary, 
After a brief tour of duty in the United States, he served again in Haiti from 
1919 to 1923. Upon completing the Field Officers' Course at Quantico, Va., 
in 1926, he became Assistant Chief of Staff at the Marine Base at San Diego, 
Calif. Vandegrift then served for over a year as Operations and Training 
Officer on the staff of the 3d Marine Brigade in China. Returning to the United 
States in 1928, he held various staff positions, including one with the newly- 
founded Fleet Marine Force, until 1935. He served in Peiping, China, for two 
years, and from 1937 to 1941 was at Marine Corps Headquarters in Washing- 
ton. Ordered to the 1st Marine Division in 1941 as a brigadier general, he was 
promoted to major general and took command of the division in March 1942 
with Brig. Gen. William H. Rupertus as his assistant division commander. 

Vandegrift had not believed that his division was sufficiently well trained 
for combat when he was notified in April that it was to be sent to New Zealand 
as part of the South Pacific Amphibious Force to establish bases and train for 
"minor landing offensives and counter-attacks to be designated at a later date". 31 
He had not expected that any combat missions would be assigned before Janu- 
ary 1943. 82 Division headquarters and the 5th Marines reached Wellington, the 
capital city of New Zealand, on 14 June, but the second echelon did not arrive 
until 11 July. 

The second echelon was still at sea when Admiral Ghormley called Vande- 
grift to Auckland on 26 June to announce the plan to use the 1st Marine Divi- 
sion (less 7th Marines), reinforced by the 2d Marines, the 1st Raider Battalion, 
and the 3d Defense Battalion, in the Solomons about 1 August 1942. The divi- 
sion's plans had to be prepared semi-independently, for Admirals Fletcher and 
Turner had not yet arrived in the South Pacific. According to Vandegrift, 
"there was no time for a deliberate planning phase, and in many instances irre- 
vocable decisions had to be made even before the essential features of the naval 
plan of operations could be ascertained"; there was "an absence of meeting of 
minds of commanders concerned." General Vandegrift's plans were based upon 
the assumption that the Allies would firmly control the air and sea routes to 
the Solomons. 88 

"COMINCH, F F 1/A3-1 /A 16-3(5) Basic Supporting Plan for the Establishment of the SOPAC 
AMPHFOR (Lone Wolf Plan), Ser 0032.2, 29 Apr 42. Copies of this plan are in Plans and Opns Div» 
GSUSA. 

n 1 st Mar Div, Final Rpt Guadalcanal Opn, I, 2. Copy in the files of the Hist Div, SSUSA. 
" Ltr, CG ist Mar Div to Comdt Mar Corps, 1 Jul 43, sub: Final Rpt Guadalcanal Opn, in 1st Mar Div 
Rpt, V. 




GUADALCANAL'S NORTH COAST CORRIDOR between the sea and high ground to 
the south (left) was the scene of the major portion of the island battle. West of the Lunga 
River ( narrow gorge just beyond the first lateral range of hills) the land is covered by dense 
forest broken by open, grassy ridges and ravines running at right angles to the coast line. The 
tip of land near the upper right corner of the picture is Point Cruz, with the village of Ko- 
fa m bona at the turn of land beyond. The mountain range on the horizon ends in Cape 
Esperance just right of the highest hill point and some 25 miles from Lunga Point. 



PLANS FOR INVASION 



43 



In a little over one month the division, hiding its preparations under the 
guise of preliminaries for amphibious training, had to prepare tactical and 
logistical plans, unload part of its ships, reload for combat, sail from Welling- 
ton to the Fijis, rehearse, and sail to the Solomons, in addition to gathering data 
on the islands and on Japanese strength and dispositions there. 
Terrain and Intelligence 

The ist Marine Division's intelligence section, on receiving Ghormley's 
orders, immediately began to gather data on terrain, landing beaches, climate, 
and the natives, from U. S. Army and Navy monographs, extracts from the 
Pacific Islands Year Boo\, and reports of the British Navy and Colonial Office* 
There was no opportunity for ground patrols to reconnoiter the islands prior to 
the invasion. Col. Frank B. Goettge, the intelligence officer of the ist Marine 
Division, and his section interviewed former Solomons residents, civil servants, 
and merchant ships' officers in New Zealand. On i July Colonel Goettge flew to 
General MacArthur's headquarters to collect information. Spending one week 
in Melbourne and several days in Sydney, he interviewed former residents of 
the Solomons in those cities. Eight of these men were given commissions or 
warrants by the Australian forces and were attached to the ist Marine Division 
as guides, advisers, and pilots. They reported to division headquarters on 15 
July to interpret maps and aerial photographs. 

The Solomons, with their green mountains, forested shores, low-hanging 
clouds, and coral reefs, are beautiful when viewed from the air or from the calm 
interisland channels, but they present difficult terrain for military operations. 
They are covered by heavy, tropical rain forests. Mountains, deep rivers, 
swamps, heat, humidity, heavy rains, and mud, combined with the jungle, 
make all movements extremely difficult. Except along the sandy beaches vehicles 
cannot move until roads have been built. At the opening of the campaign there 
were few vehicular roads. Tulagi had some trails, and a trail had been built 
through the coconut groves on the north coast of Guadalcanal, but the only 
inland passages were native footpaths. There were no bridges suitable for artil- 
lery and heavy equipment. 

The islands are unhealthful; malaria as well as dengue fever is common. 
The malarial (Anopheles) mosquito breeds in swamps, lagoons, sluggish 
streams, and puddles, and has seeded the natives heavily. In addition, fungus 
infections and sores were to plague all the troops. Only the utmost efforts at 
the prevention of disease would keep troops healthy, but living and combat 
conditions on Guadalcanal were to make systematic malaria control difficult. 



44 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Guadalcanal, which is shaped like a Paramecium, is ninety miles long and 
averages over twenty-five miles in width. A backbone of forested mountains and 
quiescent volcanoes, rising in some places as high as 7,000 feet, runs the length 
of the island. Coral reefs and sharply rising mountains make the south coast 
inhospitable for ships. The north coast has no harbors, but Sealark Channel is 
calm. Many sandy beaches on the north coast are free of reefs and provide suit- 
able landing areas for amphibious operations. From Aola Bay to the Matanikau 
River, between the mountains and Sealark Channel, there is a flat, narrow, 
grassy plain. Coconut, plantations line most of the beach, and there are some 
stretches of high, tough kunai grass. The plain is cut by many rivers and 
streams. They are generally deep and swift, and are frequently flooded by rains. 
Stagnant pools have formed at most of the river mouths through the accumula- 
tion of silt which, massing cones and sand bars, blocks the flow of water. 

The coastal plain ends east of the Matanikau River; between the river and 
Cape Esperance at the northwest tip of the island a narrow corridor lies be- 
tween the coastline and the high ground on the south. Steep ravines and 
abruptly rising ridges cut laterally across the corridor. Lunga Point, where the 
Japanese were building their airstrip in July and August of 1942, is dominated 
by Mount Austen, a 1,514-foot-high series of ridges and knolls about six miles 
southwest of the point. 

Colonel Goettge returned from General MacArthur's headquarters with its 
intelligence estimate of enemy strength and dispositions in the Solomon Islands, 
New Guinea, and the Bismarck Archipelago. This estimate, supplemented by 
aerial reconnaissance and reports from coastwatchers, was the basis of the divi- 
sion's estimate of enemy strength and dispositions in the Solomons. On 20 July 
division headquarters believed that 8,400 Japanese were on Guadalcanal and 
Tulagi, a figure which, like Admiral Turner's, much exceeded Admiral Ghorm- 
ley's. 34 However, by 30 July, Admiral Turner had reduced the Marines' estimate 
to 7,125. 

The 1st Marine Division continued to receive radio reports from the coast- 
watchers, which were monitored and transmitted by the American radio at 
Efate, even after the division's departure from Wellington. During the week 
preceding D Day, the Solomons coastwatching net broadcast reports three 
times daily in a special code. The reports were to have been relayed directly 
from Efate to Admiral Turner's flagship at sea, but as the code had not been 

8 * 1st Mar Div Opn Ord No. 7-42, 20 Jul 42, Annex A, included in CTF 62, Opn Plan No, A3-42 as 
App. D. 



PLANS FOR INVASION 



45 



properly intercepted they had to be relayed through Australia and New Zea- 
land, a process which sometimes delayed them for three days. 35 

On 17 July two officers of the Marine division were taken by a B-17 on a 
reconnaissance flight from Port Moresby over Guadalcanal and Tulagi. They 
saw no evidence of any airfields, except for burned-off areas at Lunga Point and 
Tetere, nor any extensive beach defenses on the north coast of Guadalcanal. 
Returning to Wellington by way of Townsville, Australia, they brought back 
aerial photographs of Tulagi and a strip map of the Guadalcanal coast between 
Koli Point and the Matanikau River. 

There were no good maps of Guadalcanal, a deficiency that was, in fact, 
never remedied throughout the campaign. During the planning phase the divi- 
sion's intelligence section never received what it considered an adequate num- 
ber of aerial photographs of Guadalcanal, although it received a large number 
of the Tulagi area. The intelligence section used two U. S. Navy Hydrographic 
Charts as the bases for its maps. Chart No. 2658 of Tulagi and Gavutu, on a 
scale of 1/12,000, was fair, showing approximate elevations. Chart No, 2916 of 
Guadalcanal and Florida was enlarged to a scale of 1/108,643 but was inaccu- 
rate and lacked recent corrections. A crude sketch which had been prepared by 
colonial officials before the war aided in locating some trails and buildings but 
lacked contour lines and elevations. The division's base map for the Guadal- 
canal landing was a 9-sheet strip drawn and reproduced by the photolitho- 
graphic section from aerial photographs which Colonel Goettge had brought 
from Australia. The map, based on photographs taken in late June, covered a 
narrow coastal strip on Guadalcanal from Lunga Point east to Aola. A rough, 
uncontrolled sketch showing rivers, plains, plantations, and forests, it was re- 
produced before the Amphibious Force's sortie from Wellington. No more 
photographs reached the division until 2 August, when Admiral McCain for- 
warded photographs which had been taken by a B-17 an< ^ had been developed 
aboard the Enterprise. These pictures of Tulagi and Lunga Point showed that 
the airstrip was nearly complete. 
Logistics 

The problems of logistics proved as serious as had those of procuring infor- 
mation about enemy strength and dispositions. Preparations began before the 
intelligence section had completed its work and before the final tactical plans 
were prepared. The logistical plans were based upon General Vandegrift's or- 

86 1st Mar Div Rpt, I, Int Annex E. 




MARINE COMMANDERS ON GUADALCANAL, photographed u August 1942, in- 
cluded almost all the ranging Marine Corps officers who led the landing operations and early 
fighting of the campaign. Left to right, first row: Col. George R. Rowan, CoL Pedro A. del 
Voile, Col. William C. James, Maj. Gen. Alexander A. V ande grift, Col. Gerald C. Thomas, 
Col. Clifton B. Cates, Col. Randolph McC. Pate and Commander Warwick T. Brown, USN. 
Second row: CoL William ]. Whaling, CoL Fran\ B. Goettge, CoL LeRoy P. Hunt, Lt. CoL 
Frederick C. Biebush, Lt. CoL Edwin A. Polloc\, Lt. CoL Edmund J. Buckley, Lt. CoL Walter 
W. Barr, and Lt. CoL Raymond P. C 'off man. Third row: Lt. Col. Francis R. Geraci, Lt. CoL 
William E. Maxwell, CoL Edward G. Hagen, Lt, CoL William N, McKelvy, Lt. CoL Julian 
N. Frisbee, Maj. Milton V. O'Connell, Maj. William Chalfont, III, Capt. Horace W. Fuller, 
and Maj. Forest C. Thompson. Fourth row: Maj. Robert G. Ballance, Maj. Henry W. Bues, 
Jr., Maj. James G. Frazer, Maj. Richard H. Crockett, Lt. CoL Leonard B. Cresswell, Maj. 
Robert 0. Bowen, Lt. Col. John A. Bemis, Maj. Robert B. Luckey, Lt. CoL Samuel G. Taxis, 
and Lt. CoL Eugene H. Price. Last row: Lt. CoL Merrill B. Twining, Lt. CoL Walter A. 
Reeves, Lt. CoL John DeW. Macftlin, Lt. Col. Hanley C. Waterman, and Maj. James C. 
Murray. 



PLANS FOR INVASION 



47 



ganization of the division for combat. On 29 June he organized the division 
into two regimental combat groups each of about 4,500 men. Each group was 
organized into a headquarters and support group and three battalion combat 
teams. 36 Every combat group consisted of one infantry regiment, one artillery 
battalion, one company each from the tank, engineer, pioneer, amphibian trac- 
tor, and medical battalions, and scout, special weapons, and transport platoons. 
Each combat team was originally composed of one infantry battalion, one field 
artillery battery, and platoons of engineer, pioneer, and amphibian tractor per- 
sonnel. Scouts, signal, medical, and other service personnel were added to the 
combat teams prior to the invasion. 

Combat Group A, commanded by Col. Le Roy P. Hunt, was composed of 
the 5th Marines and supporting troops. Combat Teams Nos. 1, 2, and 3 of 
Combat Group A consisted of the reinforced 1st, 2d, and 3d Battalions, respec- 
tively, of the 5th Marines. Combat Group B, Col. Clifton B. Gates commanding, 
was made up of the 1st Marines and supporting troops. Combat Teams Nos. 4, 5, 
and 6 of Combat Group B consisted of the reinforced 1st, 2d, and 3d Battalions, 
respectively, of the 1st Marines. On 9 July the division support group was organ- 
ized. 37 It consisted of about 3,500 men under Col. Pedro A. del Valle organized 
into four subgroups made up of headquarters, communications, medical, artil- 
lery, special weapons, pioneer, engineer, and amphibian tractor personnel and 
the 1st Parachute Battalion. The parachutists, fighting as infantry, were later 
assigned to the assault on Gavutu. The rear echelon, 1,729 men from all divi- 
sional units, including the 4th Battalion, nth Marines (155-mm. howitzers), 
was to remain in Wellington when the division departed. 

As each combat group was to be embarked in a transport division consist- 
ing of three transports and one cargo ship, every transport in each division was 
assigned to carry one combat team, three units of fire, thirty days' rations, and 
quartermaster, ordnance, engineer, chemical, signal, and medical supplies. Sup- 
porting troops, heavy equipment, seven units of fire, thirty days' rations and 
other supplies, and clothing stocks were assigned to each cargo ship. 38 

The logistical difficulties did not stem from shortages of materiel, for the 
division had come overseas with nearly all its equipment and supplies. The 

86 1st Mar Div Opn Ord No. 5-42, 29 Jun 42, in 1st Mar Div Rpt, I, Annex B. The terms in the operation 
order differ from present day usage. The combat groups would now be regimental combat teams. The 
combat teams would be battalion landing teams. 

87 1st Mar Div Opn Ord No. 6-42, 9 Jul 42, in 1st Mar Div Rpt, I, Annex D. 

86 Airmailgram, CG 1st Mar Div to CO, Combat Gp A, 29 Jun 42, in 1st Mar Div Rpt, I, Annfcx C. 



4 8 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



shortages were in dock space, time, and shipping. In late June there were just 
seven ships of the Amphibious Force in Wellington Harbor — five transports 
and two cargo ships. 39 More vessels had been assigned, but it was apparent that 
there would not be enough cargo space to combat-load all the division with its 
supplies and equipment. To embark the maximum number of troops. General 
Vandegrift ordered that "all units . . . reduce their equipment and supplies to 
those items that are actually required to live and fight." 40 The division was 
ordered to embark bulk supplies, including rations and fuel, for sixty days in- 
stead of the ninety days then considered necessary, 41 The ammunition allow- 
ance was reduced by one-half. Office equipment, cut to a minimum, included 
no more than two typewriters per battalion headquarters and four per regimen- 
tal headquarters. Mess equipment was limited to water bags, vacuum food 
carriers, camp kettles, coffee mills, and stoves. The order directed that all the 
division's motor transport would be embarked; all sandbags, rubber boats, out- 
board motors, camouflage and chemical warfare equipment, all engineering 
materiel, 42 water purification equipment, sixty days' clothing replenishment 
(shoes, socks, and green utility suits), and thirty days' post exchange supplies 
(tobacco, matches, soap, and razor blades only) were to be embarked. Officers 
and enlisted men were ordered to take with them all their individual equip- 
ment but to reduce their baggage to a minimum. Each officer was allowed one 
bedding roll, clothing roll, or handbag, while enlisted men were limited to 
what they could carry in their packs. 

Loading the division's weapons and supplies on board the ships was a diffi- 
cult matter. Aotea Quay in Wellington was small and could berth only five 
ships at the same time. Combat Group A had already landed, unloaded, and 
been established inland in base camps prior to 29 June. To clear the quay for 
the second echelon, it was decided to begin the embarkation of Combat Group 
A and its equipment and supplies on 2 July. The division supply officer organ- 
ized the embarkation and combat loading, exercising control through transport 
quartermasters on the ships and through field officers in charge of the 300-man 
working parties assigned to each ship. Organized into three reliefs, the work- 
ing parties labored around the clock in 8-hour shifts. Except for a few skilled 

89 SOP AC War Diary, 19 Jun 42. 

40 1st Mar Div Admin Ord No. ia-42, 29 Jun 42, in 1st Mar Div Rpt, I, Annex J. 

41 ist Mar Div Rpt, I, 6; Ltr, CG 1st Mar Div to Comdt Mar Corps, 1 Jul 43, sub: Final Rpt Guadalcanal 

Opn. 

ia The first orders stated that the temporary pier would not be loaded. They were apparently changed, for 
the engineers brought the pier to Guadalcanal. No subsequent orders regarding the pier are in. ist Mar Div Rpt, I. 



PLANS FOR INVASION 



49 



civilian operators of loading machines, cranes, hoists, carriers, and stacking 
machines, marines performed all dockside labor. All divisional motor transport 
plus eighteen io-wheeled trucks of the ist Base Depot and thirty flat-bedded 
New Zealand Army lorries moved supplies, equipment, and ammunition from 
their depots to the dockside. By 13 July Combat Group A and its gear had been 
embarked. A few shortages were made up by local purchases in Wellington, 
and others were alleviated by materiel carried by the second echelon. After 
embarkation Combat Group A practiced landings in Wellington Harbor. 

The second echelon — largely troops of Combat Group B and the Support 
Group — encountered much greater difficulty. It arrived at Aotea Quay on n 
July, while Combat Group A was completing its embarkation. As it- had not 
been anticipated that the division would be tactically employed after its arrival 
in New Zealand, the ships had not been combat-loaded before leaving the 
United States. Most of the troops had been carried across the Pacific aboard 
passenger vessels, while cargo ships carried their supplies and equipment. The 
second echelon was forced to unload, sort, and classify stores and equipment on 
the limited dock space, and to reload for combat by 22 July. The weather had 
been clear while the first group had embarked, but, during the entire period of 
the second echelon's unloading and reembarkation, cold, driving rains typical 
of a New Zealand winter made the task miserable. The morale of the troops, 
working in the rain, was low. 43 Many of the supplies had been packed in card- 
board cartons, which, becoming soggy from the rains, burst and strewed their 
contents over the docks. Other cardboard cartons, stacked inside the warehouse, 
were crushed. 

Lack of cargo space prevented the division from loading all its motor trans- 
port aboard the twelve available ships. Nearly all the quarter-ton and one-ton 
trucks were put aboard, but 75 percent of the heavier vehicles were left behind 
in Wellington with the rear echelon. The engineers expected that the Lunga 
Point airfield would perhaps be almost complete by D Day, but put earth-mov- 
ing equipment, in addition to bridging equipment and a portable dock, aboard 
the cargo ship Fomalhaut. 

Medical preparations for the campaign had not been difficult. Those med- 
ically unfit for foreign service had been left behind in the United States. The 
standard of health remained fairly high, except for troops on board one trans- 
port of the second echelon. Among those marines rotten food on the voyage to 



48 1st Mar Div Rpt, I, Logistics Annex L. 



5° 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



New Zealand had caused a loss of weight varying from sixteen to twenty 
pounds per man, as well as a diarrhea epidemic. Exposure while loading in 
Wellington had resulted in some cases of colds and influenza, and a few spo- 
radic cases of mumps broke out en route to the target area. The medical plans 
provided for medical care, under combat conditions, of 18,134 men f° r n inety 
days. 44 

By 22 July reloading had been completed, and the division was ready to 
sail from Wellington, 
Tactical Plans 

On 20 July, when logistical preparations had been almost completed in 
Wellington, General Vandegrift issued tactical orders for the landings. The 
grouping of forces for Tulagi and Guadalcanal was based upon the premise that 
of the 8,400 Japanese which the intelligence section believed to be defending the 
objectives 1,400 troops, including one infantry and one antiaircraft battalion, 
were in the Tulagi area. One reinforced infantry regiment, one antiaircraft bat- 
talion, one engineer battalion, pioneers, and others — 7,000 in all — were thought 
to be on Guadalcanal. 45 The major part of these were expected to be at Lunga 
Point, with a smaller force at Koli Point. These estimates greatly exaggerated 
enemy strength. In early August there were about 780 Japanese in the Tulagi- 
Gavutu-Tanambogo area, and 2,230 on Guadalcanal. 46 Admiral Ghormley's 
original estimate of 3^100 had been correct. 

As it was anticipated that the invasion of the Tulagi area, involving direct 
assaults against small islands, would be the most difficult, the most experienced 
battalions were assigned to this attack. To protect the flanks of the units landing 
on Tulagi and other islets, small forces were to land first on near-by Florida. 
One battalion would then land on Tulagi, followed quickly by a second. A 
third battalion would land on Gavutu at H plus 4 hours to seize Gavutu and 
Tanambogo. 

The Guadalcanal landing presented a simpler tactical problem than did the 
landing on Tulagi. The large number of undefended beaches on the north coast 
would make it possible for the remainder of the division to land unopposed at 
some distance from the Japanese. The area selected for the landing lies between 

'* 1st Mar Div Rpt, I, Med Annex M does not mention malaria. 
" 1st Mar Div Opn Ord No. 7-42, Annex A. 

49 AFPAC G-3 Hist Sec, and ATIS, interrog of Lt Gen Harukichi Hyakutake (former CG, 17th Army), 
Maj Gen Shuicho Miyazaki (former CofS, ijth Army), and Lt Gen Masao Maruyama (former CG, 2d Dip), 
31 Aug 46; ijth Army Opns, I, gives even lower figures — 1,850 on Guadalcanal, 1 company on Tulagi, and 1 
platoon on Gavutu. 



PLANS FOR INVASION 



51 



CHART NO. 3 
Organization of Landing Force for Tas\ One 






GUADALCANAL GROUP 






NORTHERN GROUP 






MejGwwA. A. VtmJtfTift 






Brig G*w M> RMptrittt 
















(3,900) 




















1 




1 


1 








1 


COMBAT 




COMBAT 




SUPPORT 




FLORIDA 




TULAGJ 




GAVUTU 


GROUP A 




GROUP B 




GROUP 




GROUP 




GROUP 




GROUP 


5th Mnr,Rtinf 




1st M* 


r, Reinf 








lit Bn. 2d Mir, 




1st Rdr Bn, 




lsi Parachute 


I«sCT2 














Reiaf 




CT2. 




Bn 


















D« 3d Def Bn 






(5,W0) 








(J.SOB) 




0.500) 




<2,200> 




(400) 



* Division reserve was released to Vandegrift 7-9 August. 



the Tenaru 47 and Tenavatu Rivers, about 6,000 yards east of the Lunga airstrip, 
well away from both Lunga and Koli Points. Having landed and established a 
beachhead, the Guadalcanal Group of the division under General Vandegrift 
could then attack west to capture the airfield. This maneuver would require 
the troops to cross both the Tenaru and the Ilu Rivers, but the Tenaru and the 
Tenavatu Rivers, on either flank of the beach, would help to protect the beach- 
head if the Japanese counterattacked while men and supplies were coming 
ashore. 

The orders issued on 20 July utilized the previous organization of the divi- 
sion into combat groups, combat teams, and the support group. The orders also 
organized the reinforcing units — the reinforced 2d Marines, the 1st Raider Bat- 
talion, and 3d Defense Battalion — which had not then joined the division. The 

* 7 In the early maps, the names of the Tenaru and the Ilu Rivers were transposed. The Ilu lies about 2% 
miles east of the Lunga. The wide part of the river is also known as Alligator Creek. 



52 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



2d Marines, Reinforced, commanded by Col. John M. Arthur, included the 2d 
Marines, the 3d Battalion of the 10th Marines (75-mm. pack howitzers), and 
engineer, pioneer, amphibian tractor, tank, medical, and other service troops — 
a total of 4,840 men. This reinforced regiment was organized like the others 
into a headquarters and support group and three combat teams of about 1,300 
each. Combat Teams A, B, and C were composed of the reinforced 1st, 2d, and 
3d Battalions, respectively. The 1st Raider Battalion, totaling 828 men, was 
commanded by Lt. Col. Merritt A. Edson. The 3d Defense Battalion, Col. Rob- 
ert H. Pepper commanding, totaled 872 men. These reinforcements, when they 
arrived, increased the division strength to over i9,ooo. 48 

The 20 July orders prescribed eight groups of varying strengths: Combat 
Group A, Colonel Hunt commanding, 4,398 (to be subsequently reduced by 
about 1,100 by the assignment of Combat Team No. 2, one reinforced infantry 
battalion, to the Tulagi attack); Combat Group B, Colonel Cates commanding, 
4,531; the Support Group, Colonel del Valle commanding, 3,537; the Tulagi 
Group (the 1st Raider Battalion and Combat Team No. 2 of Combat Group 
A), Colonel Edson commanding; the Gavutu Group, Maj. Robert Williams 
commanding, 395 of the 1st Parachute Battalion; the Florida Group, Maj. 
Robert E. Hill commanding, 1,295 of Combat Team A (1st Battalion, 2d 
Marines, Reinforced) ; the 3d Defense Battalion; and the Division Reserve — the 
2d Marines, Reinforced (less Combat Team A) — Colonel Arthur commanding, 
3,545- 

These forces were to attack and destroy the hostile garrisons on Guadal- 
canal, Tulagi, Gavutu, Tanambogo, and Makambo by landings on D Day, and 
then to organize the defense of those islands. There were not enough landing 
craft, however, to execute all landings simultaneously. At H minus 20 minutes, 
one rifle company and one machine gun platoon of Combat Team A (1st Bat- 
talion, 2d Marines, Reinforced) were to land at Haleta on Florida, just west of 
Tulagi, to cover the Tulagi landing. At H plus 30 minutes the remainder of 
Combat Team A would seize Halavo, the peninsula on Florida just east of 
Gavutu, and support the Gavutu assault by fire. 

The Tulagi Group, led by the 1st Raider Battalion, would land on a 500- 
yard front on Tulagi at H Hour and seize the northwest part of the island. Hav- 
ing reached the first phase line about 1,500 yards northwest of the southeast 
shore, the assault troops would signal for a 5-minute air and naval bombard- 

* s 1st Mar Div Rpt, I, 9, gives 19,546; Annex K gives 19,105; V, Personnel Annex W, gives 19,360 
effectives. 



PLANS FOR INVASION 



53 



ment upon the defense positions in the hills and ravines around Government 
House, the cricket field, the hospital, the prison, and the radio station, then 
attack and capture that area. Once taken, the island was to pass to the control 
of the commander of Combat Team No. 2 (2d Battalion, 5th Marines, Rein- 
forced, less E Battery, nth Marines) of Combat Group A. The 1st Raider Bat- 
talion would then prepare to re-embark for further operations. Combat Team 
No. 2 was to embark enough troops to seize Makambo, northeast of Tulagi, and 
also was to relieve the 1st Parachute Battalion after it had captured Gavutu and 
Tanambogo. The 3d Defense Battalion was to land one-third of its antiaircraft 
strength on Tulagi. 

The 1st Parachute Battalion was to land on the east coast of Gavutu at H 
plus 4 hours, seize it, and then take Tanambogo, the small island connected 
with Gavutu by a concrete causeway. The firing of a green star cluster would 
be the signal for five minutes of naval gunfire on Tanambogo from the Tulagi 
Fire Support Group. After the capture of the islets the battalion was to be pre- 
pared to re-embark for employment elsewhere. 

While operations were being conducted against the northern islets by air 
squadrons, the Tulagi Fire Support Group, Transport Group Y, and the Marine 
units under General Rupertus' command, the rest of the force — air squadrons, 
the Guadalcanal Fire Support Group, Transport Group X, and the majority of 
the Marine division under General Vandegrift — would be operating against 
Guadalcanal. Combat Group A (5th Marines, Reinforced), less Combat Team 
No. 2 (2d Battalion, Reinforced, less E Battery, nth Marines), was to land at 
Zero Hour on a 1,600-yard front with combat teams abreast to take the beach- 
head. Combat Group B (1st Marines, Reinforced) was to land in column of 
battalions at Zero plus 50 minutes, pass through Group A, and attack westward 
toward the "grassy knoll" (Mount Austen) which was erroneously believed to 
be only four instead of six miles southwest of Lunga Point. This course, it was 
hoped, would prevent the Japanese from escaping southward into the moun- 
tains. The 1st Marines was to maintain contact with the units advancing on its 
right. The formation would be a column of battalions echeloned to the left and 
rear to protect the left flank. Group A, after Group B had passed through, was 
to send Combat Team No. 1 (1st Battalion, 5th Marines) west along the shore 
to seize the Ilu River line. In the order the Ilu was mistakenly called the Tenaru. 
Combat Team No. 3 (3d Battalion, 5th Marines) was to seize the line of woods 
running southeast from the Tenavatu River, thus covering the east line of the 
beachhead. The division's light tanks, landing with the combat groups, were 



54 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



also to cover the east flank of the beachhead but were not to be committed to 
action except on orders from General Vandegrift. Platoons of A Battery of the 
i st Special Weapons Battalion were to land on the flanks of the beach to provide 
antiaircraft defense with automatic weapons. They were to revert to control of 
the ist Special Weapons Battalion of the Support Group upon the landing of 
that battalion's headquarters. 

The artillery battalions of the combat groups were to land with their 
groups, but to pass to control of the headquarters of the nth Marines of the 
Support Group upon the landing of that headquarters. The Support Group, 
including elements of the artillery, engineer, special weapons, and pioneer bat- 
talions was to land on orders from division headquarters, and to co-ordinate the 
artillery support for the attacks of the Combat Groups as well as the antiaircraft 
defense of the beachhead. The 3d Defense Battalion (less one-third of its anti- 
aircraft units) was to land on divisional order, pass to control of the Support 
Group, and assist in the defense of the beachhead. 

Combat Team A of the division reserve (2d Marines, Reinforced) had been 
released to General Vandegrift for the Florida landing, but the remainder of 
the reserve was to remain under Admiral Turner's control for the occupation of 
Ndeni if it was not required for Guadalcanal and Tulagi. General Vandegrift 
ordered the reserve, however, to be prepared to land Combat Team B less its 
reinforcing elements at H plus 4 hours, and to be ready to attach Combat Team 
C minus its reinforcing units to the Tulagi Group. 49 

Final Preparations 

While the division was making ready for combat, the other units which 
were to make up the invading force were sailing toward their respective ren- 
dezvous areas. The carrier Wasp came from the Atlantic Ocean through the 
Panama Canal. On 1 July she sailed from San Diego, escorting the five ships 
bearing the 2d Marines, Reinforced, across the Pacific, On 7 July the carrier 
Saratoga, with Admiral Fletcher on board, and her supporting warships de- 
parted from Pearl Harbor, followed by the carrier Enterprise and her support- 
ing ships. The destroyer-transports, which had helped to escort the Enterprise, 
left the carrier at sea and sailed to New Caledonia to embark the ist Raider 
Battalion. The ships from the Southwest Pacific left Brisbane, Australia, on 14 

" 1st Mar Div Opn Ord No. 7-42, 20 Jul 42, in ist Mar Div Rpt, I, Annex F, and in CTF 62, Opn Plan 
No. A3-42, App. D. 



PLANS FOR INVASION 



55 



July and arrived at New Zealand five days later to come under Admiral Tur- 
ner's control. On 21 July Admiral Fletcher, commanding Task Force 61, or- 
dered all units to rendezvous southeast of the Fiji Islands at 1400, 26 July. The 
3d Defense Battalion, on board the Zeilin and Betelgeuse, escorted by two de- 
stroyers, did not leave Pearl Harbor until 22 July and did not join the task 
force until 3 August. 60 

The twelve transports and cargo ships of the Amphibious Force, carrying 
the 1 st Marine Division together with their escorts, sailed from Wellington on 
22 July under Admiral Turner's command. On 26 July the entire Expeditionary 
Force (Task Force 61), except the Zeilin and Betelgeuse and their escorts, as- 
sembled southeast of the Fijis, and on the next day sailed to Koro for the 
rehearsal. 

From 28 through 31 July the Expeditionary Force rehearsed with carrier 
air groups participating. The rehearsal was far from being a success. One of the 
most serious handicaps was the necessity for maintaining radio silence which 
made ground-to-air communication impossible and impeded the co-ordination 
of ground force attacks with close air support. 51 Two complete landing exer- 
cises simulating the scheme of maneuver had been planned, but coral reefs 
made the beaches impracticable for landings. General Vandegrift, who firmly 
believed in the necessity for complete rehearsals, later wrote that the advan- 
tages gained from the Koro rehearsal were "dubious" when compared with the 
loss of "priceless time." 52 The rehearsal had some value, however, for the force 
received practice in debarkation procedure and in the conduct and timing of 
boat waves. The forces supporting the ground troops had an opportunity for 
firing and bombing practice. Since McCain, Fletcher, Turner, and Vandegrift 
all attended the rehearsal, they seized this first opportunity for close personal 
conferences during which they discussed their plans in detail. 53 

Since the performance of landing craft at the rehearsal led the commanders 
to expect numerous mechanical break-downs, a boat pool was organized. It 
was at Koro that the decision was made to land first at Tulagi and later at 
Guadalcanal on D Day. The transport Heywood, carrying both the 1st Para- 
chute Battalion and elements of the Guadalcanal Support Group ; would have 

B0 See Landing in the Solomons, pp. 9—13. 
61 Ibid., p. 21. 

63 Ltr, CG 1 st Mar Div to Comdt Mar Corps, 1 Jul 43, sub: Final Rpt Guadalcanal Opn. 
68 1st Mar Div Rpt, I, 7; Landing in the Solomons, pp. 21-22; COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 
29 Jul 42. 




OLD TYPE LANDING CRAFT used in the Guadalcanal operation included the fixed-bow 
LCP(L)'s shown above being hand-unloaded at Red Beach by newly arrived Amerkal Divi- 
sion troops, and the unarmored amphibian tractor (LVT) which was protected by machine 
guns. 




PLANS FOR INVASION 



57 



to unload the Parachute Battalion in the Tulagi area and then cross the channel 
to land tanks on Guadalcanal. 

The landing craft carried by the ships of the Amphibious Force amounted 
to 480 1942-model boats of various types/ 4 in addition to the vehicles of the 1st 
Amphibian Tractor Battalion of the 1st Marine Division. There were 8 30-foot 
landing craft, 308 36-foot LCP(L)'s and LCP(R)'s, 116 36-foot LCV's, and 48 
45-foot LCM's. 55 The 30-foot boats and the LCP(L)'s were the old fixed-bow 
type without ramps. The LCP(R)'s, the LCM's and the LCV's were equipped 
with movable bow ramps. The LCV's, each with a 10,000-pound cargo capac- 
ity, could carry 75-mm. and 105-mm. howitzers or i-ton trucks, but heavier 
equipment (90-mm. and 5-inch guns and heavy trucks) would have to be car- 
ried in the LCM's. The LCP(L)'s could carry troops and portable supplies, but 
all supplies brought ashore by the LCP(L)'s would have to be lifted over the 
gunwales by hand at a considerable expense of time and manpower. The am- 
phibian tractors (LVT's), about to make their first appearance in action, were 
an early, unarmored type mounting two machine guns. 

The final details of organization of the boat pool, including all boats from 
the ships of the Amphibious Force, were completed during the rehearsal. Ten 
boat groups, varying in size from sixteen to sixty-four boats of various types, 
were organized. Nearly every group included one craft assigned as a repair 
boat. Four groups, including 103 craft, were assigned to the Tulagi area to 
unload Transport Group Y, and the remaining six groups were assigned to 
unload Transport Group X at Guadalcanal. The assaulting combat teams would 
be brought ashore by ninety-one craft — sixty-three carrying Combat Team No. 
1 and Headquarters and supporting troops of Combat Group A, and twenty- 
eight carrying Combat Team No. 3. Combat Group A's tanks would be brought 
in by sixteen LCM's. Forty-one boats would carry the next waves — Combat Team 
No. 4 and Headquarters, Combat Group B. Following the landing of the first 
elements of Combat Group B the forty-one boats would join an additional 
fifty-one to carry Combat Team No. 5. Combat Team No. 6 would be borne 
ashore by fifty-seven craft. 

After the landing of the assault troops, the LCM's of the boat groups, in 

" 1st Mar Div Opn Ord No. 7-42, Annex F, in App. D, CTF 62, Opn Plan No. A3-42; Landing in the 
Solomons, p. 34, gives 467. 

" Marine Corps designations for landing craft have been changed since August 1942. These craft were 
then designated as follows: 30-foot boats, X; LCP(L)'s, T Boats; LCP(R)'s, TP Boats; LCV's, TR Boats, and 
LCM's, YL's. 



58 



GUADALCANAL; THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



general, were to continue unloading heavy equipment from certain specified 
ships, while the other boats returned to their mother ships to unload them, 
bringing in supporting troops and supplies on the second, third, and succeeding 
trips to shore. General Vandegrift also ordered that amphibian tractors be used 
wherever possible to haul supplies. Although not a tactical vehicle, the unar- 
mored amphibian tractor could sail from ship to shore, surmount the beach, 
and carry supplies overland directly to regimental and battalion dumps, with 
a resulting economy in both time and labor. 

Those troop commanders who were to be responsible for the complete 
unloading of the ships were to assign enough men to work all ships' holds 
twenty-four hours per day, for all ships were to be unloaded in the shortest 
possible time. Supplies were to move over the beaches in accordance with the 
following priority: ammunition, water, combat transport, rations, medical sup- 
plies, gasoline, other transport, and lastly, miscellaneous supplies. 

All men, as originally planned, were to wear green utility suits and to carry 
head nets and cot nets for protection against mosquitoes. Each man was to 
carry two canteens of water if enough canteens were available. 

The men of the task and landing forces were to initiate the first Allied 
offensive in the Pacific, one of the largest amphibious operations in the history 
of the United States up to that time. The tactical plans were hastily prepared, 
but they had a broad and well-established base in the doctrines governing land- 
ings on hostile shores which had been developed during the years preceding the 
outbreak of war. 56 It is significant to note that whereas plans for the landing 
operations proper wers detailed and comprehensive, there was no reference to 
systematic re-supply of the ist Marine Division which carried sufficient supplies 
for sixty days. Although on 14 July Admiral Ghormley had directed the 7th 
Marines in Samoa to be ready to embark on four days' notice with ninety days' 
supply and ten units of fire, no Army units for reinforcing or relieving the divi- 
sion were alerted. 57 

80 For a complete exposition of doctrine on landing operations, see Division of Fleet Training, Office of 
Naval Operations: Landing Operations Doctrine, United States Navy, (FTP 167), 1938, and subsequent 
revisions. 

" COMSOPAC to CG Samoa, 0245 of 14 Jul 42. SOPAC War Diary. 



CHAPTER III 



The Invasion 

While the invasion force was assembling and rehearsing, Army B-17's of 
the 26th Squadron of the nth Bombardment Group, which were part of Task 
Force 63, had been executing daily bombardments of Guadalcanal and Tulagi 
to "soften" them before the invasion. The 26th Squadron was then based at 
Efate and Espiritu Santo. The air strips at both islands were each 5,000 feet 
long and 150 feet wide by the end of July, 1 but facilities were primitive. The 
runways were soft and were frequently covered by water from the many rains. 
For night take-offs, the ends of the runways were marked by truck headlights, 
and the sides by rags stuck in bottles of gasoline and set ablaze. 2 Beginning on 
31 July, the B-17's bombed Guadalcanal and Tulagi for seven days. One B-17 
was lost, but the 26th Squadron shot down three Japanese fighters. Since the 
airfield on Guadalcanal had no planes, the principal targets were the runways 
and suspected supply depots and antiaircraft positions on both Guadalcanal 
and Tulagi. 3 

The Approach 

The Amphibious Force, covered by the Air Support Force and by Task 
Force 63, had left Koro in the Fijis on a southwesterly course on 31 July. Four 
days later the Betel geuse and Zeilin with their escorts joined Transport Groups 
X and Y, respectively, to bring the total number of ships in the Expeditionary 
Force to 82, and the number of men in the landing force to over 19,000. Sailing 
in three great concentric circles — the transports in the middle, the cruisers 
around them, and the screening destroyers in the outer circle — the Amphibious 
Force reached a point south of Rennell, then swung north and set its course for 
Savo Island, while the carriers sailed for a point southwest of Guadalcanal. On 



l Hist USAFISPA, Pt.I,I, 85. 
1 1 1 th Bomb Gp (H) Hist, p. 6. 

a Rads, COMGENSOPAC to WDCSA, CM~IN-32oo, 4 Aug, and CM -IN-5391 , 14 Aug 42. 



6o 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 




MAP NO. 1 



5 and 6 August, during the Amphibious Force's northward run west of Guadal- 
canal, overcast skies and a heavy haze reduced visibility to four miles and lim- 
ited air operations. 4 Intermittent rain squalls helped to cover the ships, which 
were maintaining radio silence. There were no contacts with the enemy. 5 

The weather cleared for the approaching American ships on the night of 
6-7 August, and the Amphibious Force, still undetected, raised Savo Island at 
0200. 6 Clear skies and a moon in the last quarter provided good visibility as the 
force passed into the calm, narrow waters between Savo, Guadalcanal, and 
Florida. The transport groups separated at 0240, 7 August. {Map 1) The four 
transports and four destroyer-transports of one group sailed around Savo to enter 
Sealark Channel between Savo and Florida. The fifteen transports of the Gua- 
dalcanal Group entered the channel between Savo and Cape Esperance on 

* COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 6-7 Aug 42. 
9 1 st Mar Div Rpt, I, 9. 



THE INVASION 



61 



Guadalcanal. 7 As daylight broke, the islands lay quiet. The Japanese were taken 
by surprise; not one shot had been fired at the Amphibious Force. 

The supporting warships took station, while their observation planes flew 
over the target areas. The three cruisers and four destroyers of the Guadalcanal 
Fire Support Group opened fire on their targets between Kukum and Koli 
Point on Guadalcanal at 0614. Two minutes later the cruiser and two destroyers 
comprising the Tulagi Fire Support Group opened fire on Tulagi. 8 The mine- 
sweepers covered their assigned areas but found no mines. By 0651 the transport 
groups had reached their areas, 9,000 yards off the landing beaches, and low- 
ered landing craft into the water. A calm sea permitted the troops to descend 
via cargo-net gangways on both sides of all transports into the landing craft. 
H Hour, the time for the Tulagi landing, was set for 0800. Zero Hour, the time 
for the landing on Guadalcanal, was finally set at 0910. 9 

Ships' gunfire and strafing by fighter planes quickly sank a small gasoline 
schooner, the only visible enemy vessel in Sealark Channel. Dive bombers and 
fighters from the carriers, then maneuvering seventy-five miles to the south in 
open waters, bombed and strafed the target areas, but encountered only feeble 
antiaircraft fire. Forty-four planes struck at Guadalcanal, and forty-one attacked 
Tulagi. Eighteen Japanese seaplanes were destroyed. 10 



The Northern Attac\ 

Tulagi 

The initial Allied landing in the Solomon Islands, which preceded those on 



Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tanambogo, was made by a covering force. (Map 2) Sup- 
ported by fire from the cruiser and destroyers of the Tulagi Fire Support Group 
and the minesweepers, landing boats put B Company of the 2d Marines ashore 
near Haleta, a village adjoining a promontory on Florida Island which com- 
mands Beach Blue on Tulagi. 11 The remainder of the 1st Battalion of the 2d 
Marines landed at Halavo on Florida to cover the landings. No enemy forces 
opposed either landing, and the battalion was later withdrawn. 

Covered by fire from the supporting cruiser and destroyers, the first wave 

7 CTG 62. t SOPACFOR: Rpt Action Guadalcanal-Tulagi Area, Solomon Islands, Aug 7-8 and 9, 1942, 
Ser 0027, 23 Sep 43, p. 3. This report is filed in the Office of Naval Records and Library. 

8 COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 7 Aug 42. 

9 1st Mar Div Rpt, II, Annex N (1st Mar Div D-3 Journal), 1. 

10 Landing in the Solomons, p. 10. 

11 Hist Sec, Hq, USMC: The Guadalcanal Campaign: August 1942 to February 1943 (June 1945), p. 14- 



62 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 




of landing craft carrying B and D Companies of the ist Raider Battalion sailed 
to Beach Blue on Tulagi, a small, hilly island about three miles long. The 
enemy was not defending Beach Blue but had retired to caves and dugouts in 
the hills and ravines on the southeast part of the island. The only casualty in 
landing was one raider killed by rifle fire. The second wave, A and C Com- 
panies, quickly followed B and D Companies which then advanced north across 
the island. The 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, then came ashore and pushed north- 



THE INVASION 



63 




west to clear out the enemy in the northwest part of the island. The raider com- 
panies turned right and advanced to the southeast, supported by E Company, 
the raiders' heavy weapons company. There was no hard fighting until the 
afternoon when fire from Japanese caves and dugouts halted the raiders about 
one mile short of Tulagi's southeast tip. The marines discovered that the ships' 
gunfire and dive bombing had not destroyed the caves and dugouts, most of 
which would withstand everything but a direct hit. Machine-gun fire was rela- 




TULAGI ISLAND, photographed y August during a pre-invasion bombardment. Florida 
Island is in the background across Tulagi anchorage. 




LANDINGS ON FLORIDA ISLAND were made by 2d Marines without opposition. 



THE INVASION 



65 



tively ineffective against the tunnels and caves, which were not constructed 
along straight lines. The most efficient means for destroying the enemy posi- 
tions were grenades and high explosive charges placed by hand. 12 

The Japanese sailors and laborers fought from foxholes, pillboxes, slit 
trenches, and caves. They refused to surrender and fought until they were shot 
or blown up. Machine gunners fired their weapons until they were killed. When 
one gunner fell, another would take his place, a process that continued until 
all in the position were dead. 

By late afternoon it had become obvious that the raiders could not com- 
plete the capture of Tulagi on 7 August, and the battalion established a defen- 
sive line about 1,000 yards from the southeast tip of the island. The five raider 
companies and G Company of the 5th Marines occupied these positions, which 
the enemy attacked repeatedly but unsuccessfully throughout the night of 7-8 
August. 

The first reports estimated that the raiders had suffered casualties amount- 
ing to 22 percent of their total strength on Tulagi; the 1st Parachute Battalion 
was reported to have lost from 50 to 60 percent on Gavutu. General Vande- 
grift requested Admiral Turner at 0135, 8 August, to release the remaining bat- 
talions of the 2d Marines from division reserve for the Tulagi-Gavutu opera- 
tion. Admiral Turner assented. 18 

On the morning of 8 August F and E Companies of the 5th Marines, hav- 
ing cleared the northwest part of Tulagi, joined G Company and the five com- 
panies of the 1st Raider Battalion. The combined force pressed its attack, re- 
duced the enemy positions, and by 1500 had completed the occupation of 
Tulagi. Only three of the original Japanese garrison surrendered ; an estimated 
forty escaped to Florida by swimming. The remainder, about 200 men, were 
killed. The Marine casualties on Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tanambogo, which had 
been exaggerated in the first reports, were lighter than those of the Japanese. 
On Tulagi thirty-six were killed and fifty-four wounded. 14 Captured materiel 
included trucks, motorcycles, ammunition, gasoline, radio supplies, two 13-mm. 
antiaircraft guns, one 3-inch gun, and ten machine guns. 
Gavutu and Tanambogo 

While the 1st Raider Battalion and the 2d Battalion of the 5th Marines were 

12 Flame throwers were not then in use. General Vandegrift wrote that they would have been "practical 
and effective," and recommended dive bombing with depth charges, ist Mar Div Rpt, II, 8. 
18 COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 8 Aug 42. 
14 1 st Mar Div Rpt, 11,4. 




GAVUTU and TANAMBOGO, photographed on the afternoon of J August from the north- 
east, were ta^en after heavy fighting. Fires in a warehouse area on Tanambogo were started 
by bombardment before the unsuccessful first attempt to capture the small island. 




THE SOUTHEAST END OF TULAGI was heavily defended by the enemy dug into the 
steep hillsides and ravines. On the hill, center, are two antiaircraft positions and at right, the 
prison. Marines* attac\ came from the left of the picture. 



THE INVASION 



6 7 



reducing Tulagi, the islets of Gavutu and Tanambogo, lying 3,000 yards to the 
east, also saw hard fighting, Gavutu is 250 by 500 yards in size and Tanambogo, 
a slightly smaller island, is joined to Gavutu by a 300-yard-long concrete cause- 
way. 

Dive bombers (SBD's) attacked Gavutu from 1145 to 1155 on 7 August. 
The Tulagi Fire Support Group shelled Gavutu from 11 55 to 1200 to cover the 
7-mile approach of the thirteen landing craft bearing the 1st Parachute Bat- 
talion to the seaplane slips and jetties on Gavutu's northeast corner. The bom- 
bardment had knocked several large concrete blocks from the ramps into the 
water, and the parachutists were forced to land at the docks and mount them in 
face of enemy small-arms fire. The first wave reached shore safely, but succeed- 
ing waves were hit hard, about one man in ten becoming a casualty. By 1400 
the parachutists were advancing inland under fire from the Japanese emplaced 
on the island's single hill and on near-by Tanambogo. By 1800 the battalion had 
secured the hill and raised the national colors there. The Japanese retained 
possession of several dugouts until the afternoon of 8 August, when they were 
reduced by the parachutists and two companies of the 2d Marines. 

In spite of air bombardment and naval shelling, the Japanese on Tanam- 
bogo continued active on 7 August. After being withdrawn from Haleta, B 
Company of the 2d Marines attempted to land on Tanambogo's north coast 
after a 5-minute naval bombardment, but the attack failed. About 1130 the next 
day, the 3d Battalion of the 2d Marines and two light tanks attacked Tanam- 
bogo from the beach and the causeway and secured most of the island by late 
afternoon. By nightfall all the Japanese were dead. Marine casualties in the 
Tanambogo-Gavutu attacks had been relatively heavy; 108 were dead or miss- 
ing, 140 wounded. The marines later estimated that nearly 1,000 Japanese had 
held Gavutu and Tanambogo, but the actual figure was about 500. 

On 8 and 9 August the 2d Marines completed the northern attack by seizing 
the adjacent islets of Mbangai, Makambo, and Kokomtambu. 15 

The Invasion of Guadalcanal 

The Landings 

Beach Red, which lies about 6,000 yards east of Lunga Point, between the 
Tenaru and Tenavatu Rivers, had been selected for the Guadalcanal landings. 

1B Rpt, Asst Div Comdr ist Mar Div to CG ist Mar Div, 1714, 8 Aug 42, in 1st Mar Div Rpt, II, Annex B; 
Ltr, Coi John M. Arthur to Hist Sec, Hq, USMC, 1 1 Oct 45, in files of USMC Hist Sec. 




MARINE LANDINGS ON GUADALCANAL were made from transports anchored 9,000 
yards off Red Beach. Smo\e from preliminary shelling still obscured the beach. 




BRIDGING THE TENARU RIVER, amphibian tractors were used to support the flooring 
as the Marines moved to expand the beachhead 7 August. 



THE INVASION 



69 



(Map V) The transports of Group X initially anchored 9,000 yards off Beach 



Red on the morning of 7 August. The destroyers of the Guadalcanal Fire Sup- 
port Group took their stations 5,000 yards north of the beach at 0840 to mark 
the line of departure for the landing craft. The assigned liaison planes made 
eight runs at low altitudes to mark the extremities of the beaches with smoke. 16 
The three cruisers and four destroyers of the Guadalcanal Fire Support Group 
began firing at 0900, to cover a 3,200-yard-long area from a point extending 800 
yards on either side of Beach Red to a depth of 200 yards. 

The first wave of landing craft, carrying troops of the reinforced 5th 
Marines (less the 2d Battalion), crossed the line of departure 5,000 yards off 
Beach Red. As the landing craft drew to within 1,300 yards of the beach, the 
warships ceased firing. There were no Japanese on the beach. The marines 
went ashore at 0910 on a 1,600-yard front, the reinforced 1st Battalion on the 
right (west), the reinforced 3d Battalion on the left. Regimental headquarters 
followed at 0938, and by 0940 heavy weapons troops had come ashore to act as 
regimental reserve. 17 All boat formations had crossed the line of departure 
promptly and in good order, and had reached their assigned beach areas. 18 The 
assault battalions of the 5th Marines then advanced inland about 600 yards to 
establish a beachhead perimeter bounded on the west by the Tenaru River, on 
the east by the Tenavatu River, on the south by an east-west branch of the 
Tenaru, and to cover the landings of successive units. 

Landing of the reinforced 1st Marines in column of battalions had begun 
at 0930. The 2d Battalion led, followed by the 3d and 1st Battalions. By 1100 
the entire reinforced regiment had come ashore. Meanwhile, in the absence of 
enemy mines and shore defenses, the transports had moved 7,000 yards closer 
to the shore. 19 

To provide direct support, the 75-mm, pack howitzers of the 2d and 3d 
Battalions of the nth Marines came ashore with the assault battalions of the 5th 
and 1st Marines. The 105-mm. howitzers of the 5th Battalion, nth Marines, 
had been assigned to general support but were not ready for action until the 
afternoon. The howitzers were landed separately from their prime movers, 
which had been held on board ship because there were not enough ramp boats 

18 The 1st Marine Division had objected to this use for liaison planes on the ground that they might easily 
have been shot down, and because smoke is not good for marking beaches, ist Mar Div Rpt, II, 15, and Avn 
Annex K. 

17 1 st Mar Div Rpt, II, Annex L (5th Mar Record of Events, 7 Aug 42), 1 . 

18 1 st Mar Div Rpt, II, 1. 

16 CTG 62.1, Rpt Guadalcanal-Tulagi. 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



to bring them ashore promptly. When the io5's reached shore, there were no 
prime movers immediately available to pull them up the beach. Whenever 
amphibian tractors were available at the beach, they were used to pull the 105's 
until the prime movers (i-ton trucks, instead of the authorized 2^-ton 6-wheel- 
drive trucks) came ashore in the afternoon. 20 The artillery battalions reverted 
to control of Headquarters, nth Marines, when that headquarters landed. All 
battalions upon landing registered their fire by air observation. 21 
The Advance 

When the assaulting regiments and their supporting pack howitzers were 
ashore, the advance toward the airfield was ready to begin. The 1st Battalion of 
the 5th Marines was to advance west along the beach toward the Lunga River 
while the 1st Marines attacked southwest toward Mount Austen. The 3d Bat- 
talion of the 5th Marines, the artillery, engineer, pioneer, and special weapons 
and defense battalions were to hold the beach during the advance. 

At 11 15 the 1st Marines passed through the 5th Marines lines. Engineers 
put a temporary bridge upstream on the Tenaru, using amphibian tractors as 
pontons. The 1st Marines crossed the river and turned southwest toward 
Mount Austen. On the beach the 1st Battalion of the 5th Marines crossed the 
mouth of the Tenaru at 1330 and marched toward the Ilu. Neither regiment 
met any Japanese. 

The 1st Marines, advancing inland with battalions echeloned to the left 
and rear, progressed slowly. The only, map which the regiment had to guide 
it was vague; the angle of declination between grid and true north was not 
shown. The regimental historian stated later that, had commanders been able 
to study aerial photographs before the landing, they might have picked easy, 
natural routes instead of a straight compass course through the jungle. 22 

The troops were heavily loaded with ammunition, packs, mortars, and 
heavy machine guns as they struggled through the thick, fetid jungle. The 
humid heat exhausted the men, whose strength had already been sapped by weeks 
aboard crowded transports. Salt tablets were insufficient in number. Troops in 
the Solomons needed two canteens of water per day per man, but the number 
of canteens available had permitted the issue of but one to each man. All these 
factors served to slow the advance of both regiments. 

20 1st Mar Div Rpt, II, Arty Annex I, i. 

21 Interv, AGF Mil Obs, SWPA, with CG nth Mar and ExO nth Mar, 19 Dec 42, included as App to 
Rpt, Mil Obs, SWPA, to CG AGF, 20 Sep-Dec 42, 2 Jan 43. OPD 381 SWPA Sec. II Case 108. 

23 rst Mar Div Rpt, II, Annex M (istMar Hist), 2, 



THE INVASION 



71 



By dusk the regiments had each advanced about one mile. General Vande- 
grift, who had come ashore at 1601, ordered them to halt in order to reorient 
and establish contact. The 1st Battalion of the 5th Marines established a perim- 
eter defense at the mouth of the Ilu River, while the three battalions of the 1st 
Marines dug in for the night in the jungle about 3,500 yards to the south. 

Considering the division's state of training and the inexperience of the 
junior officers and noncommissioned officers, tactical operations were satisfac- 
tory, but General Vandegrift criticized the "uniform and lamentable" failure 
of all units to patrol their fronts and flanks properly, 23 Organization for land- 
ing and the ship-to-shore movement of troops had been very good. As the 
Japanese were not opposing the advance, the operation did not involve a thor- 
ough test of methods of controlling ships' gunfire by shore-based fire control 
parties, but nothing had indicated the need for fundamental changes in doc- 
trine. 24 Co-ordination between ground forces on the one hand, and naval and 
air units on the other, had been unsatisfactory, for the naval forces were not 
using the same map as the 1st Marine Division. 25 In view of the relatively few 
air support missions requested by the ground troops, the centralized control of 
supporting aircraft had been satisfactory. Had the division met heavy resistance 
on Guadalcanal, a more direct means of air-to-ground communication would 
probably have been necessary. The problem had been recognized in advance, but 
there had not been time to organize and train air control groups for liaison duty 
with regiments and battalions. The liaison planes furnished little information 
to division headquarters, for the pilots were not able to observe very much in 
the jungle, and some of the messages they transmitted were vague. 26 
The Capture of the Airfield 

At 2000, when 10,000 troops had come ashore, 27 General Vandegrift or- 
dered the 1st Marines to attack toward the Lunga the next morning instead of 
taking Mount Austen. He recognized that Mount Austen commanded Lunga 
Point, but because it was too large and too far away for his relatively small 
force to hold he decided not to take it immediately. 

Supported by tanks, the 1st Battalion of the 5th Marines crossed the Ilu at 
0930 on 8 August. Progress was slow at first as the battalion advanced on a wide 

23 1st Mar Div Rpt, II, 10. 

14 Ltr, CG 1 st Mar Div to Comdt Mar Corps, i Jul 43, sub: Final Rpt Guadalcanal Opn. 
25 1st Mar Div Rpt, II, 18; Int Annex G, 2. 
" 1 st Mar Div Rpt, II, Avn Annex K. 

87 COMSOPAC to COMINCH, 1400 of 13 Aug 42. SOPAC War Diary. 




THE LUNGA POINT AIRFIELD and Mount Austen photographed from the air over the 
mouth of the Jlu River west of the Red Beach landing area two wee\s after the initial invasion. 



THE INVASION 



73 



front. General Vandegrift, then convinced that his division was not faced by a 
sizable organized force on Guadalcanal, ordered the battalion to contract its 
front, cross the Lunga River, and seize Kukum village before nightfall. By 1500 
the advance guard had traveled almost 6,000 yards to overrun a small party of 
Japanese firing rifles and machine guns from knolls on the outskirts of Kukum. 
Kukum, containing one 3-inch antiaircraft gun, one i-inch antiaircraft gun, two 
37-mm. antitank guns, and heavy machine guns, was otherwise undefended. 

Meanwhile the 1st Battalion of the 1st Marines had covered 4,500 yards to 
capture the airfield by 1600. The enemy garrison, composed of 430 sailors and 
1,700 laborers, had fled westward without attempting to defend or destroy their 
installations, including the nearly completed runway. General Vandegrift 
wrote: 

The extent to which the enemy had been able to develop their Lunga Point positions 
was remarkable in view of the short time of occupation. Since 4 July they had succeeded in 
constructing large semi-permanent camps, finger wharves, bridges, machine shops, two 
large radio stations, ice plants, two large and permanent electric power plants, an elaborate 
air compressor plant for torpedoes 5 and a nearly completed airdrome with hangars, blast 
pens, and a . . . runway. 28 

Besides the runway and the weapons in Kukum, the Japanese had aban- 
doned a store of .25-caliber rifles, .25- and .303-caliber machine guns, two 70- 
mm. and two 75-mm. guns, ammunition, gasoline, oil, individual equipment, 
machinery, Ford and Chevrolet-type trucks, and two radars. They left stocks of 
rice, tea, hardtack, dried kelp, noodles, canned goods, and large quantities of 
beer and sake behind. 29 The marines took over the abandoned weapons and 
used them to bolster their defenses. The 100-pound bags of rice and other food 
in the commissary dumps were added to the marines' limited stores. The Japa- 
nese left among their personal belongings many diaries which were valuable 
sources of information for Allied intelligence. 

About thirty-five of the Japanese trucks were serviceable. Lighter than 
American military transport, they proved less efficient. Without powered front 
axles, they stuck easily, but were a valuable addition to the 1st Marine Divi- 
sion's limited motor transport, and were used as long as they held together. 
The division engineers also used the Japanese rollers, mixers, surveying equip- 
ment, gasoline locomotives, and hopper cars in the subsequent completion of the 
airfield. 

" istMar DivRpt, II, 12. 
" Ibid., Int Annex G, 8. 



THE INVASION 



75 



Tactical operations had proceeded favorably. The Guadalcanal forces had 
landed unopposed and captured the airfield without casualties. In the Tulagi- 
Gavutu-Tanambogo area, all objectives had been taken at the cost of 144 killed 
and 194 wounded, while the defending garrisons had been destroyed. By 9 
August, 10,900 troops had landed on Guadalcanal, and 6,075 on Tulagi. 30 To 
support the infantry, 3 field artillery battalions, with 3 units of fire, plus special 
weapons, tanks, tank destroyers, and part of the 3d Defense Battalion, had landed 
on Guadalcanal, while the 3d Battalion, 10th Marines (75-mm. pack howitzers), 
and part of the 3d Defense Battalion had landed on Tulagi. 

U nloading 

Logistical operations, in contrast with tactical developments, had seriously 
bogged down. The 1st Pioneer Battalion had been charged with the duty of 
unloading supplies from the landing craft as they touched at Beach Red, 
while a navy beachmaster and shore party directed the boat movements at the 
beach. Of the 596 men (including naval medical personnel) of the Pioneer 
Battalion, one platoon of 52 went to Tulagi with the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, 
and another remained on board one of the cargo ships. About 490 men on 
Beach Red were to handle supplies for the Guadalcanal force of the 1st Marine 
Division. By 1043 of 7 August the beachmaster's party was operating on Beach 
Red. 31 

Unloading the landing boats proved to be an exhausting and almost impos- 
sible job, for so many of them lacked movable bow ramps which could be let 
down to speed the removal of supplies from the boats. The pioneers had to lift 
the supplies up and over the gunwales to unload them. On the other hand, the 
unarmored amphibian tractors "demonstrated a usefulness exceeding all expec- 
tations/' 32 Used as an ambulance, a prime mover, and an ammunition carrier, 
the amphibian tractor, later to play such an important tactical role in the Pa- 
cific, was able to move directly from ship's side to inland dump, easily travers- 
ing the sea, reefs, beaches, and swamps without halting. But there were only a 
few amphibian tractors. 

Too few troops had been provided to unload boats and move materiel off 
the beach. While loaded landing craft hovered off Beach Red, which was 

80 COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 9 Aug 42. 

81 Ibid., 7 Aug 42. 

M 1st Mar Div Rpc, II, 16. 




SUPPLIES ACCUMULATING AT RED BEACH presented this scene of confusion the 
morning of 8 August. Stacks of ammunition were dangerously piled with other supplies and 
gear under the palms to clear the beach for further unloading operations. 




ENEMY AIR ATTACKS ON THE TRANSPORTS forced a delay in unloading operations, 
but caused only light damage J August. This Japanese Mitsubishi "Hap* was flying fighter 
cover for the aircraft whose bombs are seen exploding off the stern of the transport. White 
streams are wa\es of landing craft scattering for safety. 



THE INVASION 



77 



already cluttered with unsorted gear, hundreds of marines who were waiting to 
move forward were in the vicinity, but did not assist on the beach. 33 General 
Vandegrift later stated that the unloading party had been too small ; he pointed 
out that he had anticipated that his division would have to fight a major engage- 
ment before capturing the airfield and he had therefore expected to use most 
of his troops tactically. At that time, too, the 2d Marines (less one battalion) had 
not been released by Admiral Turner. 34 

When supplies began to pile up on the beach, sailors from the transports 
joined the shore party to try to get the boats unloaded and the supplies moved 
farther inland. Pioneers and sailors worked to the point of exhaustion; the ex- 
treme heat caused many to suffer from nausea and severe headaches. But the 
beach remained cluttered. 

Enemy air attacks also delayed unloading operations. Twenty-five twin- 
engined Japanese bombers from Rabaul attacked the ships in the early afternoon 
of 7 August. Several planes were shot down by the covering fighters and gun- 
fire from the transports and screening warships. The Bougainville coastwatcher 
had warned the Allied ships in time so that none were hit, 35 but the transports 
had been obliged to cease unloading and get underway. About one hour later, 
a second wave of Japanese bombers drove the transports off again and damaged 
the destroyer Mugford. The Japanese aircraft fortunately did not attack the gear 
which crowded the beach, but three hours of unloading time had been lost. 

By nightfall on 7 August 100 landing craft were beached, waiting to be 
unloaded, while an additional 50, unable to find landing room on the beach, 
stood offshore. Unloading was continued into the night, but the tired shore 
party could not cope with its task and operations broke down completely. At 
2330 the shore party commander, stating that unloading was "entirely out of 
hand," requested that the ships cease discharging cargo until 1000, 8 August, 
when he estimated the beach would be cleared. Admiral Turner and General 
Vandegrift assented. 

To provide more room for incoming supplies, General Vandegrift doubled 
the length of the beach by extending Beach Red's boundary west to the Block 
Four River on 8 August. But the situation did not improve. Forty more enemy 
bombers flew over Florida about noon to disperse the ships again, this time 
setting the George F. Elliott afire and damaging the destroyer Jarvis. The El- 

"CTG 62.1, Rpt Guadalcanal-Tulagi. 

'* 1st Mar Div Rpt, II, n. General Vandergrift suggested using 1,500 in a division unloading party. 
" Feldt, op. tit., pp. 88-89. 



78 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



liott burned until she was a total loss. The Jarvis left for Noumea but was never 
heard from again. A false air alarm later in the afternoon forced the ships to 
get underway once more. 

The Enemy Strides Bac\ 

The Japanese garrisons on Guadalcanal and in the Tulagi area had not 
been able to resist the American attack effectively, although an enemy report 
claimed that ten transports and the greater part of the escorting naval forces 
had been destroyed. 36 The air attacks on 7-8 August had not seriously damaged 
the Amphibious Force, but they had caused serious delays in unloading. 

These were only preliminaries, however, to the heavy blow the Japanese 
were preparing to deliver. Five heavy and two light cruisers and one destroyer 
assembled in St. George's Channel off Rabaul on the morning of 8 August 
with orders to attack the American transports in Sealark Channel. 37 This force 
sailed south along the east coast of Bougainville until sighted by an Allied patrol 
plane from the Southwest Pacific Area, which radioed a warning to Melbourne. 
The Japanese ships then reversed their course for a time, but after the plane 
departed, turned west through Bougainville Strait and then south through the 
narrow waters (the "Slot") between the two chains of the Solomons. 

At 1800 on 8 August, Admiral Turner received word that the Japanese 
force was approaching. 38 The Screening Force, augmented by the fire support 
warships, was then covering the northern approaches to Sealark Channel. Two 
destroyers, the Ralph Talbot and the Blue, were posted northwest of Savo Island 
on either side of the channel to maintain watch by radar. Three cruisers, the 
Australia, Canberra, and Chicago, and the destroyers Bagley and Patterson, 
were patrolling the waters between Savo and Cape Esperance, The cruisers 
Vincennes, Astoria, and Quincy and the destroyers Helm and Wilson patrolled 
between Savo and Florida. Two cruisers, screened by destroyers, covered the 
transports. 

Aircraft from the American carrier force southwest of Guadalcanal had 
been supporting the Amphibious Force during daylight hours, but this protec- 

88 ATIS, SWPA: Int Rpts, Yazawa Butai Hq and 0\i Shudan (17th Army) Gp Hq, 8 Mar-30 Sep 42: 
Enemy Publication No. 28, 21 Jul 43, p. 50. 

a7 USSBS,TAe Campaigns of the Pacific War (GPO, Washington, 1946), p. 106; Interrogations, 1,255-56. 

8a COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 8 Aug 1 42. The warning stated that three cruisers, two destroyers, 
and two gunboats or seaplane tenders were approaching. 



THE INVASION 



79 



tion was about to be withdrawn. Two days of enemy air action and operational 
losses had reduced fighter strength from ninety-nine to seventy-eight planes. 
Fuel was running low. Admiral Fletcher, commanding Task Force 61, was 
worried by the numbers of enemy bombers operating in the area. At 1807, 8 
August, he asked Admiral Ghormley for permission to withdraw his carriers. 39 
Admiral Ghormley consented. The force would be withdrawn, he announced, 
until enough land-based aircraft to protect the line of communications to Gua- 
dalcanal could be assembled, and until sufficient stocks of aviation fuel could be 
maintained at Guadalcanal to support fighter and bomber operations. 40 The 
carrier forces retired southward early the next morning. 

When informed that the carrier forces were to be withdrawn, Admiral 
Turner called General Vandegrift and Admiral Crutchley aboard the flagship 
McCawley? 1 General Vandegrift left his command post at the mouth of the Ilu 
River to board the McCawley about 2325, 8 August. Admiral Crutchley took 
the flagship Australia out of the Screening Force and sailed aboard her to the 
McCawley to attend the conference. Turner informed them that the imminent 
retirement of the carriers would leave the Amphibious Force without effective 
air protection and that he had decided to withdraw the ships of the Amphibious 
Force at 0600 the next morning. 

General Vandegrift was seriously disturbed by this news. The retirement 
of the ships, he felt, would place his division in a "most alarming" position. 4 " 
Unloading of supplies at Tulagi had not even started at 7 August because the 
Japanese had held so much of the island. 43 The 1st Marine Division's plans 
were based on the assumption that the transports would remain offshore until 
11 August, and by the night of 8-9 August more than half the supplies em- 
barked by the division still remained in the ships' holds. 

Meanwhile the Japanese cruisers and destroyers which had earlier been dis- 
covered had now approached Savo Island undetected. Shortly before reaching 
Savo, the cruisers catapulted seaplanes which flew over Sealark Channel to 

30 CTF 61 to COMSOPAC, 0707 of 8 Aug 42. SOPAC War Diary. For fuller accounts of the naval aspects 
of these operations, see ONI, USN, Combat Narratives: Solomon Islands Campaign. I, The landing in the 
Solomons, and II, The Battle of Savo Island, 9 August 1942 (Washington, 1943) relate to the operations 
descrihed in this chapter. 

40 COMSOPAC to CINCPAC, 0834 o£ 9 Aug 42. SOPAC War Diary. 

"COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 8 Aug 42. 

42 istMarDiv Rpt, II, 13. 

* S CTF 62.6 (Rear Adm V. A. C. Crutchley), Rpt Battle Savo Island, 8-9 Aug 42, Ser 231, 6 Apr 43, 16. 
A photostatic copy of this report is in the Office of Naval Records and Library. 



8o 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



search for the American and Australian ships. 44 About midnight of 8 August 
the Allied ships in the channel reported that unidentified aircraft were over- 
head. About 0145, 9 August, a seaplane from the Japanese cruiser Cho\ai 
dropped flares over the transports, while the Japanese warships slipped unob- 
served past the Ralph Talbot and the Blue. 

After passing the destroyers, the Japanese sighted the Allied ships between 
Savo and Cape Esperance. Still undetected, they fired torpedoes which struck 
the Chicago and the Canberra. After this attack the Japanese left to strike the 
American ships between Savo and Florida. They illuminated their targets 
briefly with searchlights, then put heavy fire into the American cruisers. Un- 
willing to risk further action with the Allied cruisers and fearful that American 
aircraft might attack his ships at daylight, the Japanese commander then led 
his force northward away from Savo. On the morning of 9 August the Japanese 
force reached Rabaul. The next day, off New Ireland, the cruiser Kakp was sunk 
by torpedoes from an American submarine. 

The Battle of Savo Island was one of the worst defeats ever suffered by 
ships of the U. S, Navy. The enemy had taken them by surprise and defeated in 
detail the two forces on either side of Savo. The only enemy ship damaged was 
the Cho\ai, whose operations room was destroyed. The Vincennes and Quincy 
sank within one hour after being attacked. The badly hit Canberra burned all 
night and was torpedoed by American destroyers the next morning to sink her 
prior to the departure of the Amphibious Force. The severely battered cruiser 
Astoria sank about midday on 9 August. The Chicago and the Ralph Talbot 
had both been damaged. Fortunately the Japanese commander had lacked suffi- 
cient daring to execute his orders to attack the weakly defended transports in 
Sealark Channel. 45 Had he done so, he could have effectively halted Allied 
operations in the South Pacific and completely cut off the 1st Marine Division 
from reinforcement and supply, for all the transports and cargo ships of the 
South Pacific Force were present in Sealark Channel. 

The damage which the Japanese inflicted upon the warships delayed the 
departure of Admiral Turner's ships, which remained in Sealark Channel until 
the afternoon of 9 August. But at 1500 ten transports, one cruiser, four destroy- 
ers and the minesweepers sailed toward Noumea, followed at 1830 by the re- 
maining ships. Admiral Turner accompanied the latter force. 46 

" USSBS, Interrogations, II, 472. 
46 Void., pp. 361-62, 

4(1 CTF 62 to CTF 61, COMSOPAC, COMAIRSOPAC, 0508 and 0725 of 9 Aug 42. SOPAC War Diary. 



THE INVASION 



8l 



Of the original marine landing force of over 19,000 men, nearly all were 
ashore before the departure of the ships, but a few detachments of the 1st 
Marine Division remained on board. Most of the men of the 2d Marines, Rein- 
forced, had landed, but 1,390 men of the regiment, including regimental head- 
quarters, companies from the 2nd Amphibian Tractor and 2d Service Bat- 
talions, and part of the 3d Battalion, 10th Marines (75-mm. pack howitzers), 
were subsequently landed at Espiritu Santo by the retiring Amphibious Force. 47 
Almost 17,000 marines and naval personnel had landed on Guadalcanal and 
Tulagi. 48 

Supplies for these men were limited. Of the sixty days' supplies and ten 
units of fire with which the division had embarked, less than half had been 
unloaded. There were about four units of fire available on Guadalcanal and 
Tulagi. Guadalcanal had 6,000,000 rounds of .30-caliber ammunition, and 800 
90-mm. shells. 49 Food stocks were low. When an inventory was completed 
about 15 August, it was found that food for only thirty days was on hand — B 
rations for seventeen days, C rations for three days, and Japanese rations for ten 
days. Troop rations were reduced to two daily meals. 

None of the 3d Defense Battalion's 5-inch coast defense guns, nor any long- 
range warning or fire control radar sets had been landed. Only eighteen spools 
of barbed wire had been brought ashore. Heavy construction equipment was 
still in the ships' holds. Since the liaison planes assigned to the division had 
been destroyed on board their cruisers in the Battle of Savo Island, air recon- 
naissance of Guadalcanal would not be possible. 50 

The departure of the Air Support and Amphibious Forces left the 1st 
Marine Division alone in the Guadalcanal-Tulagi area exposed to Japanese 
attacks, without air cover or naval surface support. The nearest Allied outpost 
was the primitive base at Espiritu Santo. The enemy posts at Buka and the 
Shortlands were only 363 and 285 nautical miles away, respectively, and Rabaul 
itself lay only 565 nautical miles to the northwest. The 1st Marine Division was 
virtually a besieged garrison. 51 

47 CO 2d Mar to COMSOPAC, CINCPAC, CTF 62, and COMSOWESPAC, 1400 of 12 Aug 42. SOP AC 
War Diary. 

* 8 COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 9 Aug 42; ist Marine Division Report does not give exact 
figures. 

ifl Rad Noumea to rad Tulagi, 0640 of 14 Aug 42. SOPAC War Diary, 
B0 istMarDiv Rpt, II, Annex K, 1. 

51 Messages from commanding general of the ist Marine Division in SOPAC War Diary in August, Sep- 
tember, and October 1942 report enemy air raids and naval bombardments almost daily. 



CHAPTER IV 

Consolidating the Beachhead 



In a letter to General Marshall on n August, General Harmon, the com- 
mander of U. S. Army Forces in the South Pacific, expressed serious doubts 
about the possible success of the invasion: "The thing that impresses me more 
than anything else in connection with the Solomon action is that we are not 
prepared to 'follow up' .... We have seized a strategic position from which 
future operations in the Bismarcks can be strongly supported. Can the Marines 
hold it? There is considerable room for doubt." 1 A week later he pointed out 
that two lines of action lay open to the Japanese. They might deliver an am- 
phibious assault, with strong air and surface support, against Guadalcanal and 
Tulagi, or they might move into New Georgia and infiltrate into Guadalcanal. 
They probably would not occupy Malaita or San Cristobal, for these would be 
within fighter range of the newly won Allied base at Guadalcanal, where, to 
achieve significant results, the Japanese would need to land strong forces. A 
rapid development of Allied air power at Guadalcanal would render New 
Georgia untenable for the Japanese, It was Harmon's view that American 
forces should mount intensive air and surface operations to destroy Japanese 
surface forces; base fighters, dive bombers, and heavy bombers on Guadal- 
canal; replenish Guadalcanal's supplies; and as General Vandegrift desired, 
send more troops to Guadalcanal at the earliest possible time, 2 

Admiral Ghormley also stressed the precariousness of the Allied situation 
in the South Pacific. He warned Admirals King and Nimitz that there could 
be no further advances until more troops and planes arrived, or until the new 
positions could be consolidated. If the three aircraft carriers then assigned to 
the South Pacific were to be withdrawn, or if no reinforcements were to be 
made available, Guadalcanal and other South Pacific positions might fall to the 
Japanese. Yet using the carriers to support the Guadalcanal garrison, he ob- 
served, would be dangerous. Expenditure of carrier-based aircraft and of de- 

1 Ltr, COMGENSOPAC to WDCSA, n Aug 42. OPD 381 PTO Sec. II. 

3 COMGENSOPAC, Summary of Situation, 20 Aug 42. OPD 381 PTO Sec. III. 



CONSOLIDATING THE BEACHHEAD 



83 



stroyers in supporting Guadalcanal would jeopardize the carriers, which were 
then the principal defense of the line of communications between the United 
States and New Zealand and Australia. Sending supplies by ship to Guadal- 
canal would be dangerous until planes could be based there. 3 

Construction and Defense of the Airfield 

The rapid completion of the airfield on Guadalcanal was a project of the 
utmost importance, for planes were needed there immediately to protect supply 
ships and the newly captured position, and to carry on the offensive against the 
Japanese. On Guadalcanal work on the uncompleted airstrip had begun on 9 
August, when the 1st Engineer Battalion had moved to Lunga Point from 
Beach Red. The battalion's equipment was inadequate, for the ships had with- 
drawn before power shovels, bulldozers, or dump trucks had been unloaded. 
Using abandoned Japanese equipment, the engineers put forth their best efforts 
and added 1,178 feet to the 2,600 feet of runway completed by the Japanese. To 
fill a 196-foot gap in the center of the runway, they moved 100,000 cubic feet of 
earth with hand shovels, trucks, and captured dump cars. At first there were no 
steel mats to surface the field, which in consequence was covered with sticky 
mud after every hard rainfall. 

On 10 August General Vandegrift announced that the field, named Hen- 
derson Field after Maj. Lofton Henderson, a Marine hero of the Midway 
battle, 4 might be used by thirty-six fighters and nine scout bombers, 5 No ground 
crews were then present, but there were 400 drums of aviation gasoline, and 
some oil and machine gun ammunition. 6 The first plane to use Henderson 
Field was a Navy patrol bomber (PBY) which landed for a short time on 12 
August. On 17 August the radio station at Tulagi reported that the field was 
ready for operation. 7 

On 12 August Admiral Ghormley ordered Admiral McCain, commanding 
Task Force 63, to load all available destroyer-transports with aviation gasoline 
and lubricants, bombs, ammunition, and ground crews and dispatch them from 
Espiritu Santo to Guadalcanal. Sending these speedy ships to Guadalcanal bore 

8 COMSOPAC to CINCPAC, COMINCH, 0230 of 17 Aug 42, and 1156 of 16 Aug 42. SOP AC War Diary. 
* 1st Mar Div Rpt, III, Annex E, 6. 

5 CG 1st Mar Div to CTF 62, 0915 of 10 Aug 42; CG 1st Mar Div to COMAIRSOPAC, 11 40 of 11 Aug 
42. SOPAC War Diary. 

8 CTF 62 to rad Noumea, 1220 of 10 Aug 42. SOPAC War Diary. 
T Rad Tulagi to rad Noumea, 1000 of 17 Aug 42. SOPAC War Diary. 




IMPROVING THE LUNGA AIRFIELD, Engineers used this Japanese roller to complete 
the half finished runway shown in the lower photo, ta\en shortly after the Marines landed on 
Guadalcanal Note the profusion of tomb holes. 




CONSOLIDATING THE BEACHHEAD 



85 



a close resemblance to blockade-running. To avoid being attacked by Japanese 
planes while lying offshore during daylight, they were to leave Espiritu Santo 
in time to reach Guadalcanal in the late afternoon, and to depart from there 
early in the morning. Aircraft of Task Force 63 were to cover them. 8 

Admiral Ghormley ordered the South Pacific carrier forces to operate 
generally south of Guadalcanal against Japanese carriers, transports, battle- 
ships, cruisers, destroyers, and other shipping, in that order of priority. He or- 
dered the carriers not to venture north of latitude 10 degrees South unless they 
were pursuing a promising target within striking distance. In addition Ad- 
miral Ghormley directed the carrier forces to protect the line of communica- 
tions between Noumea and Espiritu Santo, and to cover the shipborne move- 
ment of ground crews and equipment to Guadalcanal. 9 South Pacific land-based 
aircraft under Admiral McCain were to serve as a scouting and attack force, 
sharing with the surface forces the responsibility for defending and supplying 
Guadalcanal. Admiral McCain was to be responsible for the movement of all 
airborne supplies and reinforcements to Guadalcanal. 

The immediate effects of the completion of Henderson Field were disap- 
pointing. Air operations were severely limited by lack of equipment. General 
Harmon believed that this shortcoming stemmed from the fact that the cam- 
paign . . had been viewed by its planners as [an] amphibious operation sup- 
ported by air, not as a means of establishing strong land based air action." The 
marines on Guadalcanal could not obtain gasoline, airfield matting, or bull- 
dozers, General Harmon wrote, because . . the plan did not have as its first 
and immediate objective the seizure and development of Cactus [Guadalcanal] 
as an air basc. nl ° . . Airdrome construction ... is going to be disappointingly 
slow . . . the Army commander reported on 28 August after an inspection 
trip, for the marines lacked enough "worthwhile equipment." 11 

The primitive conditions obtaining at Henderson Field limited the use of 
heavy bombers. There were no bomb-handling trucks, no carts, bomb hoists, 
or gas trucks. All planes had to be fueled from gasoline drums by hand pumps. 
Further, pending the arrival of sufficient fighters and antiaircraft guns to de- 
fend the field, General Harmon felt that it would be too risky to base B-17's 

8 COMSOPAC to CTF 63, 0216 of 12 Aug 42. SOP AC War Diary. 

fl COMSOPAC to CTF's 6t, 62, 63, 1026 of 27 Aug 42; COMSOPAC to CTF 61, 0206 of 11 Sep 42. 
SOPAC War Diary. 

10 Ltr, COMGENSOPAC to CG AAF, 15 Sep 42, cited in Hist USAFISPA,-Pt. II, p. 309. 

11 Ltr, COMGENSOPAC to CG AAF, 28 Aug 42, cited in ibid., Pt. I, I, 44. 



86 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



permanently on Guadalcanal. Suggesting to General Marshall that Army P-38 
fighters be made available to the South Pacific, he also Earned that fighters at 
Henderson Field would experience intensive action and a high attrition rate. 12 
Until heavy Army bombers could be based permanently on Guadalcanal, 
General Harmon suggested staging them from rear bases through Henderson 
Field to their targets. The B-i7 ? s could not carry profitable bomb loads from 
the New Hebrides directly to Faisi, Gizo, Tonolei, Kieta, Rekata Bay, Buka, 
and other targets in the northern Solomons, but they could reach and strike 
those areas from the New Hebrides by refueling at Guadalcanal, and continu- 
ing northward. 13 

Even with improved defenses at Henderson Field, it would be difficult to 
stage the B-17's through. A round-trip flight from the New Hebrides to Buka 
was over 1,800 nautical miles by the shortest route. Henderson Field lay about 
560 nautical miles from Espiritu Santo and about 400 nautical miles from Buka. 
To send twenty B-17's, each carrying one ton of bombs, from Espiritu Santo 
through Henderson Field to Buka required that 35,800 gallons of gasoline be 
pumped into the B-17's at Henderson Field by hand, 14 and Henderson's fuel 
stocks could rarely support such an operation. 

The first planes arrived for duty at Henderson Field on 20 August. Marine 
Fighting Squadron 223 (VMF 223) and Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 232 
(VMSB 232) had reached Noumea from Pearl Harbor on the escort carrier 
Long Island. From Noumea they flew to the New Hebrides, refueled, and con- 
tinued their way to Henderson Field. These squadrons, the forward echelon of 
Marine Air Group 23 of Brig. Gen. Roy S. Geiger's 1st Marine Air Wing, in- 
cluded nineteen Grumman fighters (F4F-4*s) and twelve Douglas dive bomb- 
ers (SBD-3's). 

Eleven dive bombers of Flight 300 from the carrier Enterprise landed at 
Henderson Field on 24 August, to remain there for three months. The first 
Army Air Force planes — five P-^oo's of the 67th Fighter Squadron — came on 
22 August, and were followed on 27 August by nine more. 16 

12 COMGENSOPAC, Summary of Situation, 20 Aug 42. 

18 Ltr, COMGENSOPAC to WDCSA, 9 Sep 42. OPD 381 PTO Sec. III. 

14 nth Bomb Gp (H), Plan Attack Buka Airdrome, in nth Bomb Gp Hist, 

16 Other naval squadrons which served at Henderson Field in October and November 1942 were torpedo 
and fighter squadrons from the Saratoga, a composite squadron from the Hornet, and a few planes from the 
Wasp. Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., Narrative Account of the South Pacific Campaign, 20 Apr 42—15 Jun 44, 
distributed 3 Sep 44 (Third Flt,*Pac Fit A 16-3/(000) Ser 021), p. 3. A copy is in the files of the Hist Div, 
SSUSA. 



CONSOLIDATING THE BEACHHEAD 



87 



The 67th Fighter Squadron had debarked at Noumea, New Caledonia, on 
15 March 1942, and had trucked its crated aircraft over the mountains along 
the narrow twisting trail (the "Little Burma Road") which led to the squadron's 
base. When the squadron's mechanics uncrated the planes, they discovered 
forty-five P-400's, a converted model of the P-39 designed for export to the 
British, and two P^F's. None of the pilots had ever flown a P-400 before, and 
only two had flown a P-39. None of the mechanics had ever worked on a P-400, 
and no instruction books for this type had been included in the shipment. How- 
ever, they successfully assembled the planes, and the pilots learned to fly them. 16 
To get from New Caledonia to Henderson Field, the P-400's flew the 277 nau- 
tical miles from New Caledonia to Efate, then the 153 nautical miles from Efate 
to Espiritu Santo, and, using extra gasoline tanks and guided by a B-17, flew 
the 560 nautical miles to Henderson Field. 

Operations of the P-^oo's were disappointing at first. They could not fly 
higher than 12,000 feet, and thus were no match for high-flying Japanese air- 
craft. It was standard practice, when Henderson Field was warned of air attack, 
for the Army P-^oo's and Marine SBD's to take off from the field before the 
raid to prevent these vulnerable craft from being destroyed on the ground. 
During the raids they strafed and bombed Japanese positions. The P-40o's 
armor, its 20-mm. cannon and two .50- and four .30-caliber machine guns, and 
its ability to carry one 500-pound bomb made this plane extremely effective in 
close support of ground troops. 17 

On 20 August, when Henderson Field began operating, supply and evacua- 
tion by air were inaugurated by the twin-engined R^D's (C-47's) of Marine 
Air Group 25. These planes made daily flights from Espiritu Santo to Guadal- 
canal, usually bringing in 3,000-pound cargo loads, and evacuating sixteen litter 
patients per trip. 

The combat troops on Guadalcanal began to construct defenses for the air- 
field immediately after its capture. Since they lacked enough tools, sandbags, or 
barbed wire, the work was difficult. A small quantity of wire was salvaged from 
the coconut plantations and added to the original eighteen spools. Captured rice 
bags served in place of sandbags. By the afternoon of 9 August hasty positions 
had been established. Considering that an enemy amphibious attack against 
the shore line was the most immediate danger, General Vandegrift concen- 
trated the bulk of his strength to hold the beaches. The marines built a defense 

16 67th Fighter Sq Hist, Mar— Oct 42, pp. 3-4, in AF Hist Sec Archives. 

17 Guadalcanal and the Thirteenth Air Force, pp. 9-10; and n. 12, p. 194. 



CONSOLIDATING THE BEACHHEAD 



8 9 



along 9,600 yards of shore line from the mouth of the Ilu River to the village of 
Kukum. The right (east) flank was refused inland 600 yards along the west 
bank of the Ilu, where the river line would give the defending forces a tactical 
advantage. The left (west) flank line at Kukum was refused inland over the 
flat ground between the beach and the jungle to the first hills. Caliber .30 and 
.50 machine guns and 37-mm. guns, supported by riflemen, defended the beach 
front. The 5th Marines (less one battalion) held the left sector, from the Lunga 
to Kukum; the 1st Marines held the right, from the Lunga to the Ilu. 

Except for troops required to cover the beach defense weapons, the infantry 
battalions were concentrated inland to be in position to launch counterattacks, 
or to contain any forces which might penetrate the beach line. In the south 
(inland), a 9,000-yard-long stretch of jungle running from the Ilu across the 
Lunga to Kukum posed a grave problem. The northern line along the shore of 
Lunga Point ran across ground which was generally flat and covered with even 
rows of coconut trees. But the inland line ran up and down steep, heavily 
jungled ridges and hills where visibility was extremely limited. There were not 
enough troops to hold a continuous line in the south sector, and the rough, 
tangled terrain increased the difficulty of maintaining contact between sepa- 
rated units. Local security detachments from the artillery, pioneer, engineer, 
and amphibian tractor battalions first held separated strong points in the south- 
ern sector until continual nocturnal enemy infiltration made necessary an out- 
post line between the Ilu and the Lunga. However, large-scale enemy operations 
in the south sector at first seemed unlikely because of the difficult terrain. 

Mortars, 60-mm. and 81-mm., were placed in supporting positions for nor- 
mal fire missions. The 1st Special Weapons Battalion dug in its 75-mm. tank 
destroyers in positions inland, but were ready to move to firing positions on the 
beach in the event of an attack. 

The troops dug foxholes, slit trenches, and dugouts to protect themselves 
from enemy rifle, artillery, and naval gun fire, and from the frequent bombing 
raids. On the outpost and beach lines the troops built two-man foxholes fitted 
with fire slits; deep pits to catch rolling hand grenades were dug in front of 
these emplacements. 

There was not enough artillery. The 2d, 3d, and 5th Battalions of the nth 
Marines had landed their howitzers and set them up in central positions from 
which they could put fire in front of all sectors. The 2d and 3d Battalions had 
75-mm. pack howitzers, the 5th Battalion, 105-mm. howitzers. There were no 
155-mm. howitzers or guns for effective counterbattery fire, nor any sound-and- 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 




MAP NO. 3 

flash units for locating enemy artillery pieces, a deficiency that was to prove 
costly. 18 The defenses against air and surface attack were to be inadequate for 
many weeks. The radars and 5-inch seacoast guns of the 3d Defense Battalion 
had not been brought ashore prior to the hasty departure of the Amphibious 
Force. Automatic antiaircraft weapons, 90-mm. guns, and searchlights, how- 
ever, had been landed on both Guadalcanal and Tulagi. An air warning system 
was obviously necessary, and one was established on 9 August in the "Pagoda," 
a tower which the Japanese had built on the airfield. From the Pagoda, ob- 
servers could alert the Lunga garrison before an air attack by sounding a siren 
which the Japanese had abandoned. The adequacy of the defenses against 
Japanese ground attacks was soon to be tested. 

Action on the llu River 

The Japanese forces on Guadalcanal in August 1942 were believed to be 
concentrated near Lunga Point between the Matanikau River, approximately 
7,000 yards beyond Lunga Point, and the native village of Kokumbona, about 

18 See Brig Gen Pedro A. del Valle, "Marine Field Artillery on Guadalcanal," Field Artillery Journal 
(October 1943), XXXIII, No. i. 



CONSOLIDATING THE BEACHHEAD 



91 




7,500 yards west of the Matanikau. A prisoner captured on 12 August confirmed 
this belief, and intimated that some of the Japanese garrison, many of whom 
were believed to be wandering aimlessly without food, might be willing to sur- 
render. 1st Sgt. Stephen A. Custer of the division intelligence section prepared 
a plan to take a patrol by boat from Kukum to the Matanikau area to make 
contact with the Japanese and give them an opportunity to surrender. Col. 
Frank Goettge, the division intelligence officer, decided to lead the patrol him- 
self. The patrol embarked from Kukum about dusk on 12 August. Colonel 
Goettge had planned to land between the Matanikau River and Point Cruz, 
about 1,200 yards west of the river, but in the darkness he landed at an un- 
known spot somewhere west of the river. The Japanese, instead of surrender- 
ing, attacked the patrol and killed all but three men who escaped by swimming. 
Colonel Goettge, three other officers, and Sergeant Custer were among the 
casualties. Subsequent patrols never found any traces of Colonel Goettge's 
party. 19 

A vigorous effort one week later to clear Matanikau and Kokumbona vil- 
lages west of the river mouth met with greater success when B, L, and I Com- 



panies of the 5th Marines attacked the villages from three sides. {Map 3) I 

19 1st Mar Div Rpt, 111,4. 



9 2 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Company took landing craft to the beach west of Kokumbona, landed, and 
•pushed east through the village while B and L Companies attacked Matanikau 
from the east and south. L Company, having crossed the river about 1,000 yards 
upstream from its mouth, attacked northward after a brief artillery preparation 
by the 2d, 3d, and 5th Battalions of the nth Marines. As L Company advanced, 
it met rifle fire from enemy emplacements on the ridges to its front and left 
flanks. By 1400 the company had reached the outskirts of Matanikau village. 
Meanwhile, enemy fire had prevented B Company from crossing from the 
east bank over the sand bar at the river mouth. B Company engaged the Japa- 
nese in the village with rifle and machine-gun fire while L Company pushed 
through the village. The three companies killed about sixty-five Japanese, 
themselves losing four killed and eleven wounded, before returning to Lunga 
Point. 

As the division commander wrote later, this skirmish did not affect the 
outcome of the campaign, but did reveal the location of those Japanese who 
had retreated from the Lunga area. The Matanikau River, flowing through a 
deep valley, was to prove an important terrain feature. Deep, swift, and about 
160 feet wide, it could not be forded in the coastal area. 20 In the absence of 
bridges the alluvial sand bar across the mouth was the only means by which 
vehicles and artillery could cross the river. To protect Henderson Field from 
artillery fire it was essential that the marines hold the easily defended east bank, 
but not until the addition of more troops to the Lunga garrison would enough 
men be available to extend the lines from Kukum to the Matanikau. 

During the first weeks on Guadalcanal the white coastwatchers and 
friendly natives were proving their value. The coastwatchers were performing 
an invaluable service for the Allied cause by giving warning of approaching 
enemy aircraft almost three hours before their arrival over the Lunga. In 
August, coastwatchers were stationed on the south coast of Guadalcanal, and 
on Buka, Bougainville, New Georgia, Santa Isabel, and Malaita, to radio re- 
ports on Japanese aircraft and ship movements to the intelligence section of 
the division. Since most enemy bomber flights from Rabaul passed over New 
Georgia, the coastwatcher on that island was especially valuable, and his reports 
usually enabled the U. S. fighter planes on Guadalcanal to take to the air in 
time to meet the oncoming enemy. Other sources of intelligence were reports 
from higher headquarters, observation posts, regimental and battalion patrols, 

"° ATIS, SWPA, Trans, Int Rpts, Yazawa Butai and 0\i Gp Hq, 8 Mar-30 Sep 42, Enemy Pub No. 28, 
21 Jul 43, Ok} Gp Rpt No. 39, p. 99. 



CONSOLIDATING THE BEACHHEAD 



93 



and air reconnaissance. The few Japanese captured during the campaign usually 
poured out information voluminously. Also useful to the Allied cause was the 
Japanese habit of carrying orders, diaries, and other documents to the front 
lines. A vast quantity of such papers was captured on Guadalcanal and sent to 
Noumea. 21 

Shortly after the ist Division had landed, Capt. Martin Clemens of the 
British Solomon Islands Defense Force, who was also British District Officer for 
Guadalcanal in the Protectorate Government, left Vungana, his hiding place in 
the hills south of Aola Bay. With his sixty native scouts he entered the marine 
lines to offer their services to General Vandegrift who accepted. 22 

On 19 August came the first evidence that Japanese ground forces were 
planning to attack the Lunga airfield. Patrols had already informed division 
headquarters that the Japanese were operating a radio station about thirty-five 
miles east of Lunga Point. Ordered to patrol the coast eastward to locate the 
enemy, A Company of the ist Marines surprised a Japanese party of four officers 
and thirty enlisted men walking openly along the beach near Taivu Point, 
about twenty-two statute air miles east of Lunga Point. The company killed all 
the Japanese but two who escaped into the jungle. Examination of the dead 
men's effects revealed that these were enemy soldiers who had recently landed. 
Their helmets bore the Army star instead of the anchor-and-chrysanthemum 
insignia of the Special Naval Landing Forces. Among the documents which 
A Company captured was a code for ship-to-shore communication during land- 
ing operations. That an enemy force might attack by land against the ist Marine 
Division's east flank, or force a landing against the Lunga shore defenses in an 
effort to recapture the airfield, or to attempt both, was an inescapable conclu- 
sion. 

Headquarters of the Japanese ijth Army at Rabaul, acting on orders issued 
from Tokyo on 13 August, had just assumed responsibility for directing ground 
operations on Guadalcanal, 23 but its intelligence estimates were extremely inac- 
curate. The landing on 7 August had taken the Japanese by surprise. They had 
retaliated with surface and air attacks, but there were not enough troops under 
ijth Army command to permit the immediate dispatch of strong forces to Gua- 
dalcanal. The Japanese thought that a small force had been landed on 7 August. 
Some estimated that only 1,000 American troops had come ashore. The Japanese 



21 1 st Mar Div Rpt, III, Annex B, 2; IV, Int Annex A, 3-5. 

22 Among Those Present, p. 26. 

23 ijth Army Opm, I. 




AN IMPROVISED FERRY carried Marines across the Matani\au River. Cables prevented 
the raft from drifting down the swift stream. 



CONSOLIDATING THE BEACHHEAD 



95 



Army apparently based its estimates of the forces needed to destroy the Ameri- 
can beachhead upon its experiences in China and Malaya. 24 The officer who was 
later to become Chief of Staff of the iyth Army, Maj. Gen. Shuicho Miyazaki, 
was then in Tokyo. He wrote later that "at that time we had no means of ascer- 
taining actual facts regarding the extent of the enemy counter-offensive." 25 

The ijth Army, commanded by Lt. Gen. Harukichi Hyakutake, had de- 
cided to retake the Lunga area. Hyakutake planned to use initially a force 
composed of part of the 28th Infantry of the yth Division and the Yokpsuka Spe- 
cial Naval Landing Forces, and later the Brigade — about 6,000 troops in 
all. 26 The 2d Battalion, 28th Infantry, had been formed into a 2,ooo-man com- 
bat team of infantry, artillery, and engineers known as the Ichify Force, after 
its commander, Col. Kiyono Ichiki. This force had been attached to the Navy 
to make the projected landing on Midway, When the Japanese carrier fleet 
was defeated, the lchi\i Force had sailed for Guam. On 7 August, when the 
force was at sea bound for Japan, it received orders to reverse its course. Landing 
at Truk on 12 August, it was attached to the Brigade, which was then in 
the Palau Islands. This brigade, commanded by Maj. Gen. Kiyotake Kawa- 
guchi, was usually called the Kawaguchi Force? 1 The first echelon, about 1,000 
men of the lchi\i Force, including Colonel Ichiki, sailed for Guadalcanal via 
Rabaul. They made the trip from Rabaul to Guadalcanal on the "Tokyo Ex- 
press," the Japanese destroyers and cruisers which operated at night among the 
islands. This echelon landed at Taivu Point about 18 August, at approximately 
the same time that 500 men of the Yo\osu\a $th Special Naval Landing Force 
landed at Kokumbona. 28 The soldiers whom A Company of the 1st Marines had 
killed on 19 August were from Ichiki's first echelon. Ichiki apparently decided 
to attack immediately because his forces had been discovered, for he did not 
wait for his second echelon to land before advancing west against the airfield. 

The 1st Marine Division was then holding Lunga Point with four infantry 
battalions in line, one in reserve, and three field artillery battalions in support. 
As division headquarters was not sure of the size of the enemy force to the east, 

" USSBS, Interrogations, II, 468. 
80 Miyazaki, Personal Account, p. 2. 

afl iyth Army Opns, I; ACofS, G-2, XIV Corps, Enemy Opns on Guadalcanal, 24 Apr 43: iyth Army 
Hist, p. 1. Hyakutake's first name is variously given as Fusayasu, Seikichi, and Harukichi. 

2T ACofS, G-2, USAFTSPA, Japanese Campaign in the Guadalcanal Area, 7 Aug 43, p. 4. Hyakutake had 
originally planned to send the Kawaguchi Force to Guadalcanal first, but was prevented from so doing by a 
shortage of ships. 

28 iyth Army Opns, I; XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, p. 1 ; see also ATIS SWPA's Int Rpts of Yazawa Butai Hq 
and 0\i Shudan Gp Hq, Ol{i Gp Im Summary No. 6, pp. 58ff. Some translations render Ichiki's name as Ikki. 



96 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



ILU ACTION 



21 August 1942 
W/Wtt Marine positions 




MAP NO. 4 

nor even certain that one had been landed, it could not risk sending troops 
beyond the front lines to attack the enemy. The marines continued to work on 
the defenses and extended the eastern line farther inland along the west bank 
of the Ilu. 

The first important ground action on Guadalcanal, after the landing, 
opened on the evening of 20 August when marines in listening posts on the 
east bank of the Ilu opened fire at some enemy troops hidden in the jungle. 
They then fell back to the west bank to report that enemy forces were moving 
up from the east. Some rifle fire followed, then subsided. 

The Ilu front lay quiet until about 0310, 21 August, when about 200 infan- 
trymen of the Ichikj Force tried to cross the sand bar at the mouth of the Ilu in 
a bayonet assault designed to overrun the positions occupied by the 2d Battalion, 
1st Marines. {Map 4) The defending battalion had emplaced a 37-mm. gun, 
protected by machine guns and rifles, to cover the 45-yard-wide sand bar* As 
the Japanese drew near, the 2d Battalion opened fire with rifles, machine guns, 
and the 37-mm. gun which was firing canister. A few of the Ichihj Force sue- 



CONSOLIDATING THE BEACHHEAD 



97 



ceeded in crossing the bar to overrun some of the 2d Battalion's positions which 
were not protected by barbed wire. The majority were killed or wounded by 
the defenders' fire. The few who had crossed were prevented from reorganiz- 
ing or extending their foothold by fire from the positions which the 2d Bat- 
talion had been able to hold. G Company of the 2d Battalion then counter- 
attacked and drove the enemy survivors back across the river. The Ichikj Force 
installed itself along the beach east of the river mouth. 

At 0403 the 3d Battalion, nth Marines, which had previously registered 
on the area, put howitzer fire on the narrow triangle of beach from which the 
Ichikj Force had begun the attack, and repeated the concentrations at 0515, 
0722, 0742, and 0851. When the initial rush failed, the Ichikj Force concentrated 
artillery, mortar, and machine-gun fire on the marine positions at the end of 
the sand bar. All available marine weapons replied immediately. From their 
positions on the west bank the marines enfiladed the enemy on the sand bar and 
beach, and by morning the sluggish river mouth was filled with enemy corpses. 

By daybreak it was apparent that the 2d Battalion, aided by artillery sup- 
port and the tactical advantages of its position, could hold the west bank of the 
Ilu. The 1st Battalion of the 1st Marines was ordered out of division reserve to 
cross the Ilu upstream to attack the enemy left flank and rear. The 1st Battalion 
crossed the river in column and posted one heavy weapons platoon to cover the 
Japanese escape route. By 1230, 21 August, C and A Companies had advanced 
over 2,000 yards, and C Company, on the right, had reached the mouth of the 
Block Four River in the rear of the Japanese. When the enemy was surrounded, 
at 1400, the battalion delivered its assault. Some Japanese ran into the sea in an 
effort to escape, and D Company stopped some who were attempting to retreat 
inland. Others fleeing to the east were attacked by fighter planes. 

To conclude the engagement before dark and to destroy some obdurate 
enemy machine gunners at the west end of the beach, a platoon of light tanks, 
supported by infantry, crossed the sand bar at 1500 and with 37-mm. canister 
and machine-gun fire attacked the Ichikj Force survivors and destroyed them. 
Two tanks suffered light damage, but by 1700 the engagement had ended. The 
attacking Japanese force had been destroyed, and Ichiki committed suicide. 
Japanese casualties numbered almost 800; only 130 survived. 29 Thirty-five 
marines had been killed, seventy-five wounded. Captured Japanese materiel 
included 10 heavy and 20 light machine guns, 20 grenade dischargers, 700 

" 17th Army Opns, I. 




AFTER THE ILU RIVER BATTLE bodies of enemy soldiers littered the sand bar which 
they had attempted to cross against heavy fire from the ist Marines. Only a few Japanese 
escaped; Colonel Ichify committed suicide. Below, testing an unused flame-thrower aban- 
doned at the llu by the Japanese. 




CONSOLIDATING THE BEACHHEAD 



99 



rifles, 20 pistols, an assortment of sabers and grenades, 3 70-mm. guns, 12 flame 
throwers (which were not used in the engagement), and demolition equip- 
ment. One Japanese had surrendered, and fourteen, of whom twelve were 
wounded, had been taken prisoner. 30 

At no time had the lchi\i Force seriously threatened the airfield. The 
amazingly small force which attacked the marines indicated either defective 
intelligence work, or sublime confidence on the part of the enemy. If by 20 
August Ichiki had become aware of the numerical strength of the Americans 
he was attacking, he must have had complete contempt for the military prowess 
of the marines. 

The Battle of the Eastern Solomons 

Before the Ichiki Force had launched its hopeless attack, the Japanese had 
attempted to send a second force to Guadalcanal. An impressive amount of 
naval strength had been concentrated near Rabaul. By 23 August Allied air 
reconnaissance reports led to the estimate that there were 3 or 4 aircraft car- 
riers, 1 or 2 battleships, from 7 to 15 light and heavy cruisers, from 10 to 20 
destroyers, 15 or more transports, cargo ships, and oilers, and 160 land-based 
aircraft at Rabaul. 31 The increase in enemy naval strength since early August led 
to the conclusion that the Japanese were preparing to put a major force ashore 
on Guadalcanal. 

Admiral Ghormley's naval forces were weaker than those of the Japanese, 
Total American naval strength in the South Pacific included three aircraft car- 
riers, one battleship, six cruisers, and eighteen destroyers, organized into three 
carrier task forces under Admiral Fletcher's command. A fourth force, built 
around the Hornet, had left Pearl Harbor on 17 August and reached the South 
Pacific on 29 August after the Battle of the Eastern Solomons had ended. 
Thirty-nine PBY's and thirty B-17's, plus the Guadalcanal aircraft, were also 
available in the South Pacific. 

Four Japanese transports carrying about 1,500 men of the second echelons 
of the lchi\i Force and the Yofosu%a $th Special Naval Landing Force, 
screened by four destroyers, had left Rabaul on 19 August to attempt to land 

* & Lt Gen Millard F, Harmon, The Army in the South Pacific (6 Jun 44), p. 14, asserts that Army planes 
killed some of the Japanese, but no Army planes were then on Guadalcanal. 

11 ONI, USN, Combat Narratives: Solomon Islands Campaign, III, Battle of the Eastern Solomons, 23-25 
October 1942 (Washington, 1943), 43-44. 



100 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



the troops on Guadalcanal on 24 August. Two screening units were sailing 
south about a hundred miles to the east. The total enemy force included three 
aircraft carriers, eight battleships, four heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and 
twenty-one destroyers as well as the four transports. The 25th Air Flotilla at 
Rabaul provided land-based air cover. 32 

The three U. S. carrier task forces under Fletcher were then operating about 
one hundred miles southeast of Guadalcanal When erroneous intelligence re- 
ports on 23 August led to the belief that the Japanese naval forces had retired 
north of Truk, the Wasp force departed from the main body to refuel, leaving 
only two carrier forces under Fletcher's command, including the carriers Sara- 
toga and Enterprise, one battleship, four cruisers, and ten destroyers. 

That the Japanese had not retired but intended to attack became clear on 
23 August after the Wasp's departure, when American patrol planes sighted the 
four transports about 350 miles north of Guadalcanal. The next day, 24 August, 
American carrier planes discovered the enemy screening forces about the same 
time that Japanese pilots located Admiral Fletcher's ships. The ensuing engage- 
ment, the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, was fought well to the east of Guadal- 
canal Like that at Midway, it was a battle of aircraft against ships. Surface craft 
did not exchange a single shot. American land-based aircraft joined the carrier 
planes to attack the enemy ships, and some Japanese planes bombed the Lunga 
area on 25 and 26 August. 33 The Japanese lost the carrier Ryujo, one destroyer, 
one light cruiser sunk, ninety planes shot down, and the seaplane carrier 
Chitose and one cruiser damaged. The Enterprise suffered damage, and twenty 
American planes were lost. 34 

Late on 24 August Admiral Fletcher retired southward expecting to return 
and resume the fight next day. But the Japanese force also withdrew and by 
next morning, 25 August, was out of range. Marine dive bombers and Army 
B-17's attacked the enemy transport force on 25 August, and search planes 
located other scattered enemy ships converging toward Guadalcanal By noon 
the Japanese ships everywhere in the southern Solomons had reversed their 
courses to follow the carriers northward. The Battle of the Eastern Solomons 
did not prevent the Japanese from landing troops on Guadalcanal, but it did 
postpone their landing for a few days. The postponement gave the 1st Marine 
Division more time to strengthen its defenses. 

82 USSBS, Campaigns of Pacific War, pp. 1 10— 1 i, and App. 40, p. 112. 
88 3d Def Bn, Rpt Air Action. 

84 USSBS, Campaigns of Pacific War, App. 40, p. 113. 



CONSOLIDATING THE BEACHHEAD 



101 



After the victory in the Eastern Solomons, the naval force of the South 
Pacific, already weakened by the return of nine cruisers and destroyers to the 
Southwest Pacific, 36 lost several more ships in action, but did not inflict serious 
damage upon the enemy. 36 

On 31 August the Saratoga, patrolling west of the Santa Cruz Islands, was 
hit by an enemy torpedo. The crippled carrier reached Tongatabu safely, made 
emergency repairs, and on 12 September sailed for Pearl Harbor where she 
remained incapacitated until November. The Wasp, patrolling south and east 
of the Solomons, sank on 15 September after being struck by three torpedoes 
from enemy submarines. The battleship North Carolina, escorting the Wasp, 
was torpedoed on the same day and forced to return to Pearl Harbor. The South 
Pacific thus lost the services of four major fleet units. Its carrier strength was 
reduced to one — the Hornet. 

Supply 

The lack of provision for re-supply and reinforcement of the 1st Marine 
Division, the withdrawal of the supporting naval forces from Guadalcanal, the 
cruiser losses at Savo Island, and the failure to complete the unloading of the 
transports of the Amphibious Force had placed the division in a precarious 
situation. Having embarked sixty days' supplies to obtain freedom of action, 
General Vandegrift had been able to bring less than one-half that amount 
ashore. The lack of shipping, combined with air and surface weakness, would 
have prevented a free and rapid flow of Allied forces and supplies to Guadal- 
canal even if unlimited troops and materiel had been available to the South 
Pacific. To complicate matters further, the fact that the Japanese were free to 
land strong forces on Guadalcanal protracted the campaign for six months and 
required the commitment of many more American troops than had been 
originally planned. 

After landing on Guadalcanal, the marines had begun to move the sup- 
plies from Beach Red to Lunga Point immediately. Fortunately the Japanese 
aircraft had not bombed or strafed Beach Red during the crucial period when 
a tangle of rations, ammunition, spare parts, and other materiel lay exposed. 
But the supplies had to be moved quickly lest the Japanese exploit the oppor- 

,B COMSOPAC to CTFs 61, 17, 18, 44 (ntg), 30 Aug 42. SOPAC War Diary. 

" See ONI, USN f Combat Narratives: Miscellaneous Actions in the South Pacific, 8 August 1942-22 Jan- 
uary 1943 (Washington, 1943). 




HENDERSON FIELD was operational when these pictures war ta{en about a month after 
the invasion. Though constantly busy filling bomb craters at the field, the Marines had found 
time to dig in a number of antiaircraft positions. Below, a jeep speeds a maintenance crew to 
duty along the runway improved and extended by the Americans. 




CONSOLIDATING THE BEACHHEAD 



103 



tunity they had hitherto missed. The division, which had landed only 30 per- 
cent of its authorized 2 l / 2 -ton trucks, put to use every available vehicle, includ- 
ing artillery prime movers, amphibian tractors, and captured Japanese trucks. 
The pioneers repaired a Japanese-built bridge over the Lunga and improved the 
coast road. Beach Red was cleared in five days of hauling. 37 The supplies were 
segregated and dispersed throughout Lunga Point. Observation of the results of 
the naval bombardment and air attacks on D Day showed the marines that 
"the probability of damage to supplies varied directly in proportion to the ver- 
tical height of the dump." 38 The dumps were therefore kept at the lowest pos- 
sible heights. 

The 1st Marine Division, expecting that its sixty days' supplies would prove 
ample, had naturally not made provision for immediate re-supply. When ad- 
vanced supply depots were established at Noumea and Espiritu Santo on 20 
August by order of Admiral Turner, they were not under divisional control. 39 
On Guadalcanal the movement of supplies brought in by ships proved difficult. 
Once the beachhead was secured, the handling of supplies from the beach to 
supply dumps was theoretically a naval responsibility. The nucleus of a Naval 
Operating Base had been formed on 9 August by landing craft and crews from 
the Amphibious Force, but there were not enough men for effective operation. 
The division pioneers, later supplemented by hired native labor, continued to 
unload ships until October when enough sailors to perform this duty had ar- 
rived. All supplies had to be lightered from the ships to the beaches, unloaded, 
placed aboard trucks, and hauled inland. But there were never enough trucks. 
The arrival of reinforcing units did not alleviate the shortage of 254-ton trucks, 
for, to save cargo space, only 1 1 / 2 -ton trucks were now being shipped. 40 

No major reinforcements were sent in during the first month. Before Ad- 
miral Turner's departure on 9 August, Vandegrift had recommended that the 
2d Marines remain with the division instead of occupying Ndeni, and most of 
the 2d Marines landed before Admiral Turner's departure. Admiral Ghormley 
agreed to Vandegrift's proposal, and on 9 August he directed the 2d Marines to 
remain in the Guadalcanal-Tulagi area if they had already landed. 41 The re- 
mainder of the regiment, 1,390 men, debarked at Espiritu Santo on 12 August. 

87 1st Mar Div Rpt, II, Annex J, 2. 

88 Ibid., Ill, 4. 

80 COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 20 Aug 42; ltr, CG 1st Mar Div to Comdt Mar Corps, 1 Jul 43, 
sub: Final Rpt Guadalcanal Opn. 

40 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Logistics Annex Z, 1, 1 1— 12. 

" COMSOPAC to all ships, 1000 of 9 Aug 42. SOPAC War Diary. 



104 GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Colonel Arthur, commanding the 2d Marines, and his staff remained at Espi- 
ritu Santo for a few days, and on 22 August landed at Tulagi from xhtAlhena? 2 

The first ships to reach Guadalcanal after the landing were destroyer- 
transports which on 15 August put ashore aviation ground crews and supplies. 
By 20 August, when the bulk of Task Force 62 was operating out of Noumea, 
six destroyer-transports had been assembled to run between Espiritu Santo and 
Guadalcanal. The next day the destroyer-transports Colhoun, Gregory, and 
Little brought 120 tons of rations, enough for 3% days, to Guadalcanal, and the 
seaplane tender MacFarland landed more aviation materiel. 

The original plan of 12 August for the destroyer-transports to operate under 
McCain was changed on 17 August, when Admiral Ghormley charged Tur- 
ner's force (Task Force 62) with the responsibility of establishing the line of 
communications to Guadalcanal. Task Force 62 was to defend and strengthen 
the Marine garrison there. Turner would plan and control all surface move- 
ments to Guadalcanal, including that of aviation personnel and materiel. Ad- 
miral McCain was to notify Turner whenever such personnel and supplies were 
available for shipment by water. 43 

The arrival of fighter planes at Henderson Field permitted large ships to 
enter Sealark Channel in daylight with some degree of safety. The cargo ships 
Alhena and Fomalhaut, escorted by destroyers, succeeded in landing some sup- 
plies and weapons during daylight on 22 and 23 August, although one of the 
destroyers was torpedoed and sunk. Seven destroyer-transports and destroyers 
brought supplies to Guadalcanal and Tulagi on 29 August. The small amounts 
involved in these shipments may be illustrated by the fact that the Colhoun was 
carrying only seventeen tons of stores when she was sunk in the afternoon of 30 
August during an attack on the ships by eighteen enemy bombers. 44 

By the end of August the 1st Marine Division was in a slightly stronger 
position than had been the case on 9 August. The defenses of the airfield had 
been established, the field was in operation, the Ichify Force had been defeated, 
and a tenuous line of communications between Espiritu Santo and Guadal- 
canal had been established. But the Americans were not yet firmly established 
on Guadalcanal. 

" COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 22 Aug 42. 

" CTF 62 to CTF 63, 2136 of 16 Aug 42, SOP AC War Diary; COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 
17 Aug 42. 

44 COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC, Action Rpt, Scr 00486, 13 Dec 42: Annex A, ltr, Lt Comdr G. B. Madden to 
SEC NAV, 3 Sep 42, sub: Loss of Colhoun, Ser 45401. Copy in the Office of Naval Records and Library. 



CHAPTER V 

Increasing Air and Ground Action 



Insufficiency of troops and weapons imposed severe limitations on the 
Marine garrison at Lunga Point. The number of troops available to General 
Vandegrift in late August and early September was too small to permit a suffi- 
cient extension of his defenses for the protection of Henderson Field from in- 
fantry attacks and artillery bombardments. He believed that to prevent enemy 
landings and protect the field, a 45-mile-long stretch of Guadalcanal's north 
coast should be held. But with less than 20,000 troops on Lunga Point, only a 
small area could be securely defended. Not until more troops arrived could 
offensive action be undertaken to keep the Japanese beyond artillery range of 
Henderson Field. In late August and early September the Japanese forces on 
Guadalcanal were not able to mount sustained attacks against the Lunga 
defenses, but aircraft and warships exerted almost continuous pressure by re- 
peated bombardments. Almost daily, Japanese bombers from Rabaul attacked 
Henderson Field at noon during August, September, and October; a few war- 
ships and submarines sailed into Sealark Channel nearly every night to shell 
the airfield. General Vandegrift, forced to remain on the defensive within a 
restricted area, concentrated on the improvement of his air defenses, while 
awaiting the arrival of more troops and supplies. 



Air Power and Supply 

Radars and 5-inch guns of the 3d Defense Battalion had been added to the 
Lunga defenses in late August. 1 The 5-inch guns of the battalion's two coastal 
batteries were equipped with permanent mounts. These guns, landed without 
their trailers and sleds, were manhandled into positions on the beach east and 
west of the Lunga River, a task requiring ten days of hard labor. Set up on the 
beach to cover the channel, the 5-inch guns were frequently in action against 
Japanese warships but lacked enough hitting power to be completely effective. 

1 Memo, Brig Gen Robert H. Pepper, USMC (former CO, 3d Def Bn), for author, 23 Jun 47. 




BOMBER STRIKES ON THE AIRFIELD too^ a heavy toll of Marine aircraft. A hanger 
and supplies in several revetments (above) were fired in the same Japanese air attac{ during 
which a direct hit was scored on the Marine dive bomber seen below. 




INCREASING AIR AND GROUND ACTION 



Three automatic weapons and two 90-mm. antiaircraft batteries were as- 
signed to the defense of the airfield before the end of August, and in early 
September, following the landing of antiaircraft guns of a detachment of the 
5th Defense Battalion on Tulagi, one more 90-mm. battery of the 3d Defense 
Battalion was transferred from Tulagi to Guadalcanal, But the battalion could 
not provide a complete defense. 

The Lunga beachhead was too restricted to permit the posting of pick-up 
searchlights where they could illuminate attacking aircraft soon enough for the 
gun batteries to fire with complete effectiveness. To catch a plane early in its 
bombing run would have necessitated placing the lights at points 6,000 to 
10,000 yards from the batteries. In September, however, the beachhead was less 
than 10,000 yards east to west and less than 5,000 yards north to south. 

The radar sets supplied to the 3d Defense Battalion were not uniformly 
good. The long-range warning set, SCR (Signal Corps Radio) 270, worked 
well, but the SCR 268, a primitive set originally designed for searchlight con- 
trol, was not accurate enough for controlling 90-mm. gunfire at night. The 
guns of only one of the three 90-mm. batteries were equipped with remote con- 
trol systems by means of which they could be automatically trained by the 
gun-laying fire control directors. In the other two batteries, the guns had to be 
trained by hand, a much less accurate method. 3 

During daylight fighter aircraft could usually afford Henderson Field 
reasonably adequate protection against enemy planes, but at night antiaircraft 
guns provided the main defense. The effectiveness of Henderson Field's air- 
craft was demonstrated on 24 August when Marine fighters intercepted the 
regular noon Japanese bombing attack and destroyed five twin-engined and 
five single-engined bombers and eleven fighters. The marines lost three fighters 
and their pilots. 3 But the accuracy of General Harmon's prediction that the 
attrition rate would be heavy was proved the next day when General Vande- 
grift reported to Admiral Turner that of the thirty-one Marine aircraft which 
had arrived on 20 August only twenty remained serviceable. One fighter had 
crashed on the field, four had been lost in action and three were being repaired; 
one bomber had crashed and two were being repaired. 

General Vandegrift requested more planes; and on 29 August he repeated 
his request. Just eight Grumman fighters, the only planes with the ability to 

a Ltr, CO 3d Dcf Bn to Comdt Mar Corps, 7 Mar 43, sub: Rpt 3d Def Bn Opns at Guadalcanal with 
recommendations concerning 1 equipment and personnel changes. 

8 Rad Guadalcanal to COMSOPAC, 0730 of 24 Aug 42. SOPAC War Diary. 



io8 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



attain enough altitude to intercept the Japanese, remained in commission, al- 
though all fourteen of the P-400's were operational. The next day the P-400's 
fought with the Japanese and destroyed five planes but lost four of their own 
number. By 30 August only five of the original Grumman fighters would fly, 
but twenty-nine more fighters and dive bombers had reached Henderson Field. 
Admiral McCain suggested that two more F4F or P-38 squadrons be used at 
Henderson Field; if this were done, he believed, Allied air strength would turn 
Guadalcanal into a "sinkhole*' for Japanese air power. Admiral Gh'ormley, 
asserting that Guadalcanal could not be defended without more fighters, con- 
curred with McCain. When Admiral Ghormley asked General MacArthur for 
P-38's, the Southwest Pacific commander replied that he had in his theater only 
six operational P~38's which he needed badly, but he promised P-39's at a 
later date. 4 

Throughout September the lack of adequate fighter strength continued to 
be serious, and the lack of sufficient air supplies and ground crews prevented 
the field from being used as a permanent base for heavy bombers. 5 The inability 
of the P-400's to fight at high altitudes required that all aircraft which could 
be spared from the Enterprise and the Saratoga be used at Henderson Field. 
Admiral Nimitz and General Harmon also asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff for 
high-altitude Army fighters, but none were immediately available. 6 

Yet fighters were absolutely essential for the security of Lunga Point which 
was being raided almost daily by Japanese bomber forces. On 10 September 
eleven Grumman fighters rose to meet a flight of twenty-seven twin-engined 
bombers, escorted by thirty Zeroes, that attacked at 1225. Four bombers were 
destroyed for the loss of one Grumman. Despite their limited numbers, the 
effectiveness of American planes and tactics was being constantly demonstrated 
against the Japanese. One patrolling B-17 destroyed four attacking fighters on 
12 September; the next day another shot down two more. On the same day six 
Grumman torpedo bombers (TBF's) and twelve more dive bombers arrived at 
Guadalcanal to strengthen the meager air forces, and twenty F4F's intercepted 
a flight of twenty-eight escorted twin-engined bombers fourteen miles north of 

4 CG 1st Mar Div to CTF 62, 0735 of 25 Aug 42; CG 1st Mar Div to COMSOPAC, 0905 of 29 Aug 42, 
0519 of 30 Aug 42; COMAIRSOPAC to CINCPAC, COMINCH, 0402 of 31 Aug 42; COMSOWESPAC to 
COMSOPAC, 1330 of 2 Sep 42. SOPAC War Diary. 

6 Ltr, COMGENSOPAC to WDCSA, 9 Sep 42. OPD 381 PTO Sec. Ill (9-9-42). 

a CINCPAC to COMINCH, 2331 of 1 Sep 42; COMGENSOPAC to WDCSA, 0800 of 8 Sep 42; COM 
INCH to CINCPAC, COMSOPAC, 2237 of 8 Sep 42. SOPAC War Diary. 



INCREASING AIR AND GROUND ACTION 



109 



Henderson Field. The Marine fighters attacked, shot down four bombers and 
four fighters, and forced the rest of the bombers to jettison their bombs and 
retire. 7 

The Japanese, pressing their attacks in spite of these losses, sorely tested the 
endurance of the defenders of Henderson Field. The feelings of the men who 
suffered the bombardments are expressed by the historian of the 67th Fighter 
Squadron: 

Almost daily, and almost always at the same time — noon, "Tojo Time" — the bombers 
came. There would be 18 to 24 of them, high in the sun and in their perfect V-of-Vs forma- 
tion. They would be accompanied by 20 or more Zeroes, cavorting in batches of 3, nearby. 
Their bombing was accurate, and they would stay in formation and make their bombing 
run even as they knew the deadly fire from the Grummans would hit any minute. 

There was a routine of noises at Tojo Time. First the red and white flag (a captured 
Japanese rising sun) would go up at the pagoda. That meant scramble. Every airplane that 
would fly would start up immediately and all would rush for the runway, dodging bomb 
craters. Often through the swirling dust the ground crews would see a wing drop. That 
meant another plane had taxied [into] a dud hole or a small crater, indistinct in the tall 
grass. The first planes to the runway took oS first, and two at a time, whether . . . Grum- 
mans, dive-bombers or P-^oo's, 

The formations would join later in the air. The P-^oo's and dive-bombers would fly 
away to work over the Jap territory. The Grummans would climb for altitude, test-firing 
their guns on the way. The whining of engines at high r,p.m., the chatter of machine 
guns, and settling dust. 

On the ground the men would put in a few more minutes' work, watching the 
pagoda all the while. Then the black flag would go up. It was amazing how fast the tired 
and hungry men could sprint. ... In a moment the field would be deserted. 

Then the high, sing-song whine of the bombers would intrude as a new sound, separate 
from the noise of the climbing Grummans. Only a few moments now. The sing-song would 
grow louder. Then: swish, swish, swish. And the men would pull the chin straps of their 
helmets tighter and tense their muscles and press harder against the earth in their foxholes. 
And pray. 

Then: WHAM! (the first one hit) WHAM! (closer) WHAMI (walking right up to 
your foxhole) . . . WHAAA MM! (Oh Christ!) WHAM! (Thank God, they missed us!) 
WHAM! (the bombs were walking away) WHAMI (they still shook the earth, and dirt 
trickled in). WHAMI 

It was over. The men jumped out to see if their buddies in the surrounding fox holes 
had been hit. The anti-aircraft still made a deafening racket. Grass fires were blazing. 
There was the pop-pop-pop of exploding ammunition in the burning airplanes on the 
ground. The reek of cordite. Overhead the Grummans dived with piercing screams. And 
the Jap bombers left smoke trails as they plummeted into [the] sea. 



7 Msgs of 10-14 Sep 42. SOPAC War Diary. 



110 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



In a little while the airplanes would return. The ground crews would count them as 
they landed. The ambulance would stand, engine running, ready for those who crashed, 
landed dead stick, or hit the bomb craters in the runway. Then the work of patching and 
repairing the battered fighters would start again. 8 

But naval shellings were much worse: 

... a bombing is bad, because as the big planes drone overhead the whole field seems 
to shrink up to the size of your foxhole and when the bombs start to swish-swish-swish in 
their fall they seem to be aimed right at that tiny spot. But a bombing is over in a minute. 

A shelling, however, is unmitigated, indescribable hell. It can go on for a few minutes 
or four hours. When the shells scream overhead you cringe expecting a hit and when there 
is a let-up you tremble knowing that they are getting their range and the next one will be 
a hit. 9 

During early September the flow of supplies to the beleaguered garrison 
on Lunga Point increased slightly, for the American victory in the Battle of 
the Eastern Solomons effected a greater measure of security for the line of com- 
munications between Espiritu Santo and Guadalcanal. The destroyer Helm 
towed three harbor patrol boats to Tulagi on 31 August. The transport Betel- 
geuse put 200 men of the 6th Naval Construction Battalion ashore on 1 Sep- 
tember. 10 The Fomalhaut and three destroyer-transports landed more supplies 
on 3 September. The destroyer-transports Little and Gregory followed on the 
next day, when the Gregory took the 1st Raider Battalion on a patrol to Savo 
Island. No Japanese were found there, and the battalion withdrew. But on the 
night of 4-5 September, a superior force of enemy warships sank both the 
Little and Gregory in Sealark Channel. 

The cargo ships Bellatrix and Fuller sailed into Sealark Channel on 7 Sep- 
tember, but before they could discharge all their cargo the threat of enemy 
attack forced them to retire. Escorted by two destroyers, they returned one week 
later, arriving at 0730, 14 September. General Vandegrift ordered the Bellatrix 
to unload her gasoline at Tulagi because the Lunga area was under attack. 
During the day the Bellatrix also transferred the 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, from 
Tulagi to Guadalcanal, and at 1915 the four ships departed. 

The Counteroffensit/e, 12-14 September 

After the Ilu engagement on 20-21 August, the marines fought no major 
engagements until mid-September. An attempt in late August by the 1st Bat- 

B 67th Fighter Sq Hist, Mar-Oct 42, pp. 15-16. 

9 Ibid., p. 19. 

10 COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 1 Sep 42. 



INCREASING AIR AND GROUND ACTION 



III 



TAS1MB0K0 RAID 

8 September 1942 




MAP NO. 5 



talion of the 5th Marines to clear the enemy out of the Kokumbona area had 
failed to accomplish substantial results. Japanese forces were again gathering 
east of the Ilu. Native scouts had reported in late August that about two or 
three hundred well-equipped Japanese were building defensive works at the 
village of Tasimboko, some eighteen miles east of Lunga Point. In early Sep- 
tember the native scouts reported that the enemy force at Tasimboko num- 
bered several thousand troops, instead of two or three hundred. Division head- 
quarters discounted this information but determined to destroy the force at 
Tasimboko by a hit-and-run raid* The force selected for the raid consisted of a 
provisional battalion composed of the 1st Raider and 1st Parachute Battalions 
under Colonel Edson's command. The two understrength units, rested after 
their hard fighting on 7-8 August, had been brought to Guadalcanal from 
Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tanambogo and formed, with their companies intact, into 
a provisional battalion. 

The raiders and parachutists were to sail from Lunga to a point east of 
Tasimboko on destroyer-transports, and land in the rear of the enemy. (Map 
5) Because there were not enough ships, the destroyer-transports carried the 
raider companies to Tasimboko first, then returned to Lunga Point for the 
parachutists. 

The raider companies landed east of Tasimboko at dawn on 8 September, 
followed by the parachute companies. Advancing west, the raiders met a weak 
enemy force shortly after daybreak. They overran a Japanese outpost unit and 



112 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



captured one battery of light artillery. Supported by P-400's and SBD's from 
Henderson Field, they pushed west to the outskirts of Tasimboko where enemy 
resistance grew stronger. But the raiders pressed their attack, and forced the 
Japanese to evacuate the village. During the raid, the marines destroyed large 
stores of medical equipment, ammunition, radios, landing craft, four 75-mm. 
guns, and one 37-mm. gun. 11 At a cost to themselves of two killed and six 
wounded, they killed twenty-seven Japanese. Contact with the enemy was lost 
at 1230, and the marines returned east to board the transports. 

The raiders had set out expecting to find a few exhausted and poorly 
armed Japanese. 12 Instead they had met elements of a strong force with artil- 
lery support, which General Vandegrift subsequently estimated to number be- 
tween 3,000 and 4,000 men. The enemy had avoided action with the small 
raiding force which had engaged only the outposts. The fact that the Japanese 
main body did not attack the raiders is surprising, for the natives' reports had 
been correct. 13 A strong enemy force had been landed near Taivu Point. 

The units which the raiders had met were part of the recently landed 
Kawaguchi Force. This Force, the nucleus of which was Col. Akinosuka Oka's 
124th Infantry, had originally been the 35th Brigade, a part of the 18th Division 
in China, until that division was triangularized in December 1941 and sent to 
Burma. On 6 December 194 1, the KawagUchi Force sailed from China for 
Borneo and landed there on 16 December. In March 1942 it arrived at Cebu in 
the Philippines, then proceeded to Mindanao in April. In June 1942 the Kawa- 
guchi Force left for the Palau Islands, where it received 1,000 replacements. 14 
It was then alerted for New Guinea. 15 The Force stayed in the Palaus until late 
August, when it departed to stage through Truk and sail in successive echelons 
for Guadalcanal. 

The Kawaguchi Force echelons arrived at Guadalcanal between 29 August 
and 11 September; they landed at night from destroyer-transports and trans- 

11 CG 1 st Mar Div to COMSOPAC, 1 150 of 8 Sep 42. SOP AC War Diary. In the early years of the war 
the Americans often erroneously reported capturing 77-mm. pieces from the Japanese, who had no weapon of 
that caliber. In this volume, 75-mm. has been substituted for 77-mm. when the latter caliber is given in the 
sources. In the message cited, "75-mm. guns" is rendered correctly. 

"Interv, USAFISPA Hist Off with Maj James G. Kelly, USMC (former CO, C Co, 1st Prcht Bn), 19 
Jun 44. 

18 The Japanese appear to have thought that Edson's troops which landed at Tasimboko were a fresh 
body of reinforcements. 17th Army Opns, \. At the time of the raid, some Allied supply ships were sailing 
westward through the channel. 

" XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, 18th Div Hist, p. 1. 

10 ATIS, SWPA: Int Rpts, Yazawa Butai and Okt Skudan Gp Hq, 8 Mar-30 Sep 42, p. 30. 




BLOODY RIDGE, with Henderson Field just beyond, appears scarred white along its crest 
in the picture above. A marine, below, surveys foxholes along the ridge where Colonel Edson's 
raider-parachute battalion fought off the Kawagudn Force. 




ii 4 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



ports. 16 The Force was composed of the Ichihj Force rear echelon (a part of 
the reinforced 2d Battalion, 28th Infantry) ; the 124th Infantry, and the 2d Bat- 
talion, 4th Infantry, plus antitank, signal, engineer, and artillery elements. It 
included over 6,000 men. 17 

The 1st Marine Division's report subsequently estimated that total enemy 
strength on Guadalcanal at this time amounted to 7,000 men. 18 The majority 
of the Kawaguchi Force — the 1st and 3d Battalions, 124th Infantry, and the 
Ichiki rear echelon — had landed with General Kawaguchi near Taivu in late 
August and early September. Colonel Oka, with his regimental headquarters 
and the 2d Battalion, 124th Infantry, landed at Kokumbona west of Lunga 
Point on 6 September, 19 The 2d Battalion, 4th Infantry, was normally a part of 
the 2d Division but was attached temporarily to General Kawaguchi's com- 
mand. By the time the last units had landed, General Kawaguchi had assembled 
over 6,000 men, but they were divided between two widely separated points. On 
8 September the main body was in the vicinity of Taivu Point, while Colonel 
Oka with a smaller force was in the vicinity of Kokumbona, more than thirty 
miles west of Kawaguchi's position. 

Kawaguchi had been ordered to reconnoiter and decide whether his men 
were capable of seizing the airfield at once, or if they should first be reinforced. 
Confidently believing that reinforcements were unnecessary, he determined to 
attack immediately. 20 

About 2 September Kawaguchi's engineers, using hand tools, started to cut 
a trail from Tasimboko through the jungle toward a point south of Henderson 
Field. Tough vines, heavy undergrowth, dense forest, and steep ravines and 
ridges along the route of approach made all movement difficult in that area. 
As the trail progressed, infantry and artillery units followed the engineers. 
Documents captured later indicated that the Japanese had planned a co-ordi- 
nated attack, with strong air and naval surface support against three separate 
sectors. 21 The plan involved moving against the Lunga defenses from the west, 
south, and east. The western force was out of physical contact with Kawa- 

18 Ibid., Int Summaries Nos. 14, 17, 19, 22, pp. 68-79; Amer Div, Int Annex to Combat Experience Rpt, 
Tab A; XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, OB, p. 4; 18th Div Hist, p. 2; USAFISPA, Japanese Campaign in the Guadal- 
canal Area, p. 6. 

17 lytk Army Opns, I. 

18 1 st Mar Div Rpt, V, Annex Y, 1-2. 

19 Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab A; XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, p. 3, 
ao lyth Army Opns, I. 

5,1 istMar Div Rpt, IV, 12. 



INCREASING AIR AND GROUND ACTION 



"5 



guchi's main body, which was then proceeding through the jungle toward the 
1st Marine Division's south and east flanks. 

The 1st Marine Division headquarters was well aware that an attack was 
impending* Land patrols, observation posts, and patrolling aircraft were fur- 
nishing data on the enemy to the intelligence section. South and southeast of 
the Lunga defenses patrols of marines and native scouts clashed regularly with 
the Japanese. Accumulated evidence demonstrated that Kawaguchi's column 
was advancing toward the Lunga, but division headquarters did not know 
Kawaguchi's exact location until he attacked. 22 

The marines, meanwhile, had improved their defenses. The Lunga garri- 
son, strengthened by the raiders and parachutists, was also augmented by the 
2d Battalion of the 5th Marines, which was brought over from Tulagi on 21 
August and assigned for a time as regimental reserve in the 5th Marines' sector 
west of the Lunga River. In preparation for an attack from the east the 1st 
Marines completed the extension of the east flank line to a point about 4,000 
yards inland from the mouth of the Ilu. The right (south) flank of the line was 
unprotected. In the west sector a 4,000-yard gap between the Lunga River and 
the 5th Marines' lines southwest of Kukum lay open in the inland area. The 
pioneers held one strong point in this gap on a small ridge west of the river, 
and amphibian tractor drivers held a second separate strong point on a large 
open ridge northwest of the pioneers. General Vandegrift realized that a co- 
ordinated attack could penetrate these defenses, but he expected that the reserve 
would be able to contain any force attacking there before it reached the airfield. 

East of the Lunga in the 1st Marines' sector the southern line was almost 
as weak. An outpost line extended across 4,000 yards of rough jungle between 
the east flank and the Lunga River. This line was held by the 1st Marines, and 
by artillerymen, engineers, and pioneers. The outpost line ran north of the 
low ridge, later called Bloody or Edson's Ridge, which lies about 800 yards east 
of the Lunga River. The dense growth and the rough ridges limited fields of 
fire; there were not enough troops to hold a continuous line in force. At the 
edge of the jungle at the north end of the ridge was the division command post. 

General Vandegrift ordered the Raider-Parachute Battalion out of division 
reserve to develop a defense position along Bloody Ridge south of the outpost 
line. He believed that if it was undefended, the ridge would provide the enemy 
with a good route of approach to the airfield. The 1st Pioneer Battalion had 

" See ibid., 5-6. 



ii6 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



already bivouacked northwest of the ridge along the east bank of the Lunga, 
and the ist Engineer Battalion had bivouacked northeast of the ridge to help 
prevent the Japanese from advancing north along the Lunga or through the 
jungle east of the ridge. 
Action on Bloody Ridge 

On 12 September the Raider-Parac hute Battalio n attempted to patrol south 
along the ridge but met enemy rifle fire. {Map VI) The battalion dug in for the 
night on the southernmost knoll. During the night of 12-13 September there 
was continuous firing along the ridge. That the enemy had penetrated to the 
jungles around the ridge was obvious, but the dense growth and the blackness 
of the night limited visibility from Bloody Ridge, At one time during the night 
some Japanese actually broke through the sketchy positions of the Raider-Para- 
chute. Battalion, but apparently failed to realize it for they made no effort to 
exploit their advantage. 

The Raider-Parachute Battalion attempted a further advance after day- 
break on 13 September, but failed to gain. Exhausted by fighting in the heat, it 
halted in the afternoon to establish a slightly stronger, higher position about 
250 yards north of its bivouac of 12-13 August, On the right the raiders had 
made a tenuous connection with the pioneers, but the left flank was open. The 
2d Battalion of the 5th Marines, then in division reserve, moved to the south 
edge of the airfield on the afternoon of 13 September to effect the relief of the 
Raider-Parachute Battalion the next morning. One battery of the 5th Battalion, 
nth Marines (105-mm. howitzers), had been assigned to provide direct .sup- 
port to the ridge area. Men from the nth Marines Special Weapons Battery 
maintained an observation post on the ridge. In the afternoon the battery had 
registered on areas in the south but accurate plotting was impossible because 
there were no reliable maps. 

On the ridge itself two companies of parachutists were holding the eastern 
spur of the center knoll, with their left flank uncovered; B Company of the 
Raiders held the center of the knoll on the parachutists' right. Posted on the 
right between the ridge and the Lunga River was A Company, and C Com- 
pany was the battalion reserve. During the last hours of daylight on 13 Septem- 
ber the troops dug in and extended their fields of fire. 

Enemy aircraft attacked Lunga Point repeatedly during the day. American 
fighter planes forced one wave of bombers to turn back, but at 1020, 1320, and 
1750 Japanese bombers protected by fighter escort came over to attack Hender- 
son Field and positions adjacent to the ridge. 



INCREASING AIR AND GROUND ACTION 



117 



Shortly after nightfall on 13 September rocket flares over Bloody Ridge 
announced the opening of an attack by at least two battalions of the Kawaguchi 
Force. Without any artillery preparation, the main body attacked north against 
the center of the ridge while one force cut through the jungle west of the ridge 
and isolated the right platoon of B Company of the raiders and cut off A Com- 
pany. Though surrounded, the platoon from B Company fought its way about 
250 yards to the rear to join the battalion reserve on the northernmost knoll. 
The Japanese exploited the gap between the raider companies and the pioneer 
companies by moving strong parties in, while at other points small groups infil- 
trated through to cut telephone wires. B Company of the raiders, in danger of 
envelopment, refused its right flank along the western slopes of the ridge. 

The registered battery of the 5th Battalion, nth Marines, opened fire on 
the enemy at 2100, joined shortly thereafter by a second and then a third bat- 
tery. All batteries fired over the heads of the marines on the ridge. As the 
enemy attack grew in intensity the 5th Battalion began firing heavy concentra- 
tions. Communications between the fire direction center and the forward ob- 
servers were broken for about two hours, but the artillery continued to fire 
without observation. 

While continuing the attack against B Company on the center of the ridge, 
the Japanese put heavy mortar fire on the parachutists' positions on B Com- 
pany's left. At 2230, shouting loudly, the Japanese infantry stormed the para- 
chutists* lines and drove them back off their eastern spur. This exposed B 
Company to attack from three sides. Colonel Edson, commanding the Raider- 
Parachute Battalion, decided to withdraw B Company from its dangerous posi- 
tion and to rally his forces on the northern knoll of Bloody Ridge, the battalion 
reserve line. Using C Company of the raiders as a nucleus, Colonel Edson and 
Maj. Kenneth Bailey, the executive officer, successfully re-established the lines 
on the last knoll in front of Henderson Field and the division command post. 

The Japanese, continuing their attacks, advanced uphill against artillery, 
mortar, machine-gun, and rifle fire and grenades. As at the Ilu, these assaults 
failed to break the last lines. Kawaguchi's forces attacked Bloody Ridge about 
twelve times during the night. The direction and objective of every attack was 
preceded by a rocket flare, each of which served as a point of reference for the 
fire of the 5th Battalion, nth Marines. From 2100, 13 September, until dawn 
the next day, the 105-mm. howitzer batteries fired 1,992 rounds in support of the 
Raider-Parachute Battalion at ranges as short as 1,600 yards. They sometimes put 
shells within 200 yards of the front lines, which was generally considered to be 



n8 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



an unusually short distance in the early days of the war. By 0230 Colonel Edson 
had concluded that his troops could hold out, although they were still under 
attack. As morning drew near the vigor of the Japanese assaults declined. 

By dawn of 14 September the Raider-Parachute Battalion was still holding 
the last knoll on Bloody Ridge. The Japanese attacks had ceased. After aircraft 
took off from Henderson Field and drove the remaining enemy from Bloody 
Ridge, the Kawaguchi Force began to retreat. 
Action on the Flan\s 

While the main enemy body was attacking Bloody Ridge, a second unit of 
the Kawaguchi Force had attacked west about midnight against the right flank 
of the 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, on the Ilu. Here the line lay along the edge 
of the jungle in front of a 700-yard-deep flat, grassy plain to the east. The front 
was wired in; fields of fire had been prepared by burning and trampling the 
grass. The right end of the line was without flank protection and thus was open 
to envelopment. 

About two companies of Japanese attacked against the front of the right 
flank unit, but failed to penetrate the line. 23 A fire fight developed which lasted 
throughout the night, but the 1st Marines' positions were never seriously en- 
dangered. 

During the day division headquarters, believing that the force still facing 
the 1 st Marines on the east flank was composed of one infantry battalion sup- 
ported by artillery, sent six light tanks across the plain to destroy the enemy. 
When they made repeated sorties over the same routes of approach, three tanks 
were hit by antitank gunfire and one overturned in a creek. The Japanese did 
not attack the 1st Marines again but engaged the right flank of the east line 
with desultory fire until 16 September, 

A third Japanese force, probably under Colonel Oka's command, struck on 
the afternoon of 14 September in the west sector. Part of the 3d Battalion of the 
5th Marines was holding the sector from the coast inland to a ridge which 
commanded the coastal road. The Japanese, debouching from the jungles, 
struck suddenly at the ridge but failed to take it and were driven back down the 
slopes by infantry counterattacks and artillery fire. 
The Cost 

The exact composition of the three Japanese attacking forces is not clear. 
The 1 st and 3d Battalions of the 124th Infantry and the 2d Battalion of the 

"Interv, USAFISPA Hist Off with Capt Gerald W. Gates, USMC (former Bn-3, 3d Bn, 1st Mar), 17 
Jun 44. 



INCREASING AIR AND GROUND ACTION 



II 9 



4th Infantry probably delivered the assault against Bloody Ridge while the 
Ichibj force rear echelon may have attacked the 1st Marines. The 2d Battalion, 
114th Infantry, probably delivered the weak attack against the 5th Marines on 
14 September. 

Marine casualties on Bloody Ridge were about 20 percent of the total force 
engaged. Thirty-one were killed, 103 wounded, and 9 missing. The Japanese 
casualties were much higher. Of an estimated 2,000 who attacked Bloody Ridge, 
about 600 were killed on the ridge itself. 24 After its repulse, the Kawaguchi 
Force began to retreat, carrying its wounded in litters. The Japanese had en- 
tered the action with only a few days' rations, and these seem to have been 
quickly exhausted. About 400 men of the 2 d Battalion, 28th Infantry (Ichiki's 
rear echelon) made their way east to Koli Point. Some troops of the 2d Bat- 
talion, qth Infantry, were also reported to have gone to Koli Point- 25 The re- 
mainder of the Kawaguchi Force retreated to the west by cutting a trail around 
the rough southern slopes of Mount Austen to Kokumbona. Many of the 
wounded died, and the weakened survivors buried dead soldiers, heavy equip- 
ment, and artillery pieces along the way. The journey took over a week. 26 The 
Japanese reported that 633 men were killed in action, and 505 wounded. 27 

That the Kawaguchi Force could offer no immediate threat to Henderson 
Field was indicated in the week following the Bloody Ridge action. Marine 
patrols fought a series of successful engagements with Japanese units along the 
upper reaches of the Lunga River. They found stocks of the equipment, ammu- 
nition, small arms, and guns of two field artillery batteries which the Kawa- 
guchi Force had abandoned. The second and more formidable threat to Hen- 
derson Field had been successfully averted. 

Reinforcements 

By mid-September the Marines, besides capturing the airfield, had fought 
two successful defensive actions and conducted minor offensive actions in the 
Matanikau area. Neither combat reinforcements nor additional ammunition 
had yet been sent to Guadalcanal. When Vandegrift had persuaded Turner in 

" istMarDivRptJV, n. 

85 XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, 18th Div Hist, p. 3. 

SB XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, gives two figures: p. 2 estimates 12-14 days, and i8tk Div Hist, p. 2, estimates 
7-10 days. 

* T 17th Army Opns, L XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, 18th Div Hist, p. 3, estimates 2,000 killed in action or DW. 



120 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



August that the 2d Marines should remain with the 1st Division, he had also 
asked Turner to consider sending the 7th Marines from Samoa to rejoin the 
division on Guadalcanal. 28 

Allied aerial reconnaissance in September showed that the Japanese were 
building up their strength at Rabaul, and Admiral Ghormley concluded that 
the Japanese could be expected to continue their ground operations in New 
Guinea and to mount a large-scale counteroffensive to retake the Lunga airfield. 29 
Turner believed that until the Allies could muster sufficient strength to keep 
the Japanese air and surface forces away from Guadalcanal, additional positions 
there should be established outside the Lunga defenses. These additional posi- 
tions should be strong enough to withstand direct enemy attack. From these 
new positions patrols could destroy enemy forces which succeeded in landing 
elsewhere along the coast. On 9 September Turner recommended to Ghormley 
that the reinforced 7th Marines establish the first additional position at Taivu 
Point, about twenty-five statute miles east of Lunga Point. Admiral Ghormley 
decided to withhold his final decision until Turner visited Guadalcanal to de- 
cide whether the 7th Marines could be used more advantageously at Taivu or at 
Lunga Point. 

The 7th Marines and part of the 5th Defense Battalion had embarked .on 
seven ships at Samoa on 2 September with equipment and vehicles. The ships 
had sailed under escort for Espiritu Santo, where they arrived on 12 September. 
While en route, the commanders of the transport division, the 7th Marines, and 
the 5th Defense Battalion detachment had been ordered to prepare landing 
plans for both Ndeni and Taivu Point. 

In the meantime Admiral Turner had flown to Guadalcanal to confer with 
General Vandegrift, who wished the 7th Marines to reinforce the Lunga de- 
fenses. They agreed that while a wide deployment along the coast would be 
essential for ultimate security, the most pressing need was the reinforcement of 
the Lunga area by the 7th Marines. Admiral Turner presented these recommen- 
dations to Admiral Ghormley on 12 September, and the next day Ghormley 
ordered the 7th Marines to reinforce the Guadalcanal garrison as soon as pos- 
sible. 30 The 5th Defense Battalion detachment remained at Espiritu Santo for 

28 COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC, Rpt Opn for Reinf Guadalcanal by 7th Mar (Reinf), Ser 00195, 27 Sep 42, 
p. 2. A copy of this report is in the Office of Naval Records and Library. 
"Ibid., p. 3. 

30 COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC to COMSOPAC, 0530 of 12 Sep 42. SOPAC War Diary; COMAMPHIB- 
FORSOPAC, Rpt Opn for Reinf Guadalcanal by 7th Mar, p. 4. 



122 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



a time, and on 2 October occupied the island of Funafuti in the Ellice Group, 
about 1,250 miles to the east of Guadalcanal. 31 

For the movement of the 7th Marines to Guadalcanal, Admiral Turner 
organized a new task force — Task Force 65. The transport group of the force 
consisted of two transport divisions of three ships each. The 7th Marines, Re- 
inforced, including the 1st Battalion of the nth Marines (75~mm. pack howitz- 
ers), comprised the landing force. Three cruisers, including the New Zealand 
cruiser Leander, plus destroyers and minesweepers were to screen the transports. 

Task Force 65, under Turner's command, sailed from Espiritu Santo at 
0515, 14 September. The situation was delicate. The remaining Allied naval 
forces in the South Pacific were supporting Turner's force but were inferior in 
strength to the Japanese. Many enemy ships were present in the Solomons 
waters. On 15 September Turner decided not to continue toward Guadalcanal, 
for some Japanese warships had been reported to be operating near Santa Cruz 
and the Shortlands, and warships were shelling the Lunga area almost nightly. 
He did not wish to risk being attacked by the Japanese during debarkation. At 
1500, 15 September, his force retired to a point southeast of San Cristobal to 
await more favorable conditions. Twenty-four hours later the force turned 
north toward the east end of San Cristobal to be in position to land the 7th 
Marines on Guadalcanal on 18 September. As the Japanese did not attack, 
Admiral Turner decided on 17 September to proceed with the landing plans. 

General Vandegrift had wished to extend the east flank of the Lunga posi- 
tion one mile beyond the Ilu, and the 7th Marines were to have landed at Beach 
Red. After the night battle of 13-14 September he decided not to extend his 
flank, and suggested that the 7th Marines land between the Lunga and the Ilu 
Rivers. As heavy weather and rolling seas made this area unusable, Admiral 
Turner decided to land at Kukum where the beach was more sheltered. He 
planned to spend no more than twelve hours unloading off Kukum as his force 
would have to clear Sealark Channel before nightfall to avoid enemy warships. 
He desired to put ashore within that time all troops, weapons, and essential 
equipment, three units of fire, forty days' rations, and the vehicles carried on 
board the six transports. 

The force anchored off Kukum on the morning of 18 September and by 
0550 had begun unloading. As Japanese aircraft did not attack during the day. 
unloading operations proceeded without interruption until 1800. The MacFar- 

51 5th AAA Bn (formerly 5th Dcf Bn) Rpt of Opns, 1 Dec 40-30 Apr 44. 



INCREASING AIR AND GROUND ACTION 



123 



land and the Tracy also sailed into the channel about 1000, followed by the 
Bellatrix at 1300, and all three ships, which were not part of Task Force 65, 
began unloading an emergency shipment of aviation gasoline. 32 

The results of the day's operations, according to Turner, actually exceeded 
his expectations. Four thousand, one hundred and eighty men of the reinforced 
7th Marines came safely ashore. 33 One hundred forty-seven vehicles were 
landed, together with 90 percent of the engineering equipment, 82,5 percent of 
the organizational equipment, nearly all the ammunition, 82 tons of B rations, 
930 tons of C and D rations, nearly all quartermaster stores, and 60 percent of the 
tentage. The McCawley, Bellatrix, MacFarland, and Tracy put 3,823 drums of 
fuel ashore. Still on board were 13 officers and 244 enlisted men; 15 tanks; 8,825 
tons of B, C, and D rations, and 73 vehicles. 34 The ammunition landed at this 
time was the first shipment which the 1st Marine Division had received in re- 
sponse to its request for 10,000 rounds of 37-mm. canister and 10,000 hand 
grenades on 22 August. 

Turner's force, having taken on board the 1st Parachute Battalion, 162 
American wounded, and 8 Japanese prisoners, sailed for Espiritu Santo at 1800, 
18 September, followed by the gasoline ships. Enemy warships entered Sealark 
Channel from the north on the night of 18-19 September but did not pursue the 
retiring task force. 

Because Japanese warships regularly operated in Sealark Channel at night, 
Admiral Turner specified on 24 September that any vessels carrying supplies to 
Lunga Point were to unload only during daylight. If not fully unloaded they 
were to retire eastward out of the channel at night and return to the Point at 
dawn. 35 Following these orders, the Betelgeuse, escorted by one destroyer, un- 
loaded off Lunga Point from 0628 to 1830, 24 September, and then retired east- 
ward. The ships returned at 0530 the next morning to discharge cargo, and 
withdrew again for the night. They anchored once more off Lunga Point at 
0630, 26 September, to resume unloading. During the same morning the Alhena, 
escorted by one destroyer, sailed into Sealark Channel to unload. The Betel- 
geuse and her escort retired, completely unloaded, at 1500. The Alhena sailed 
out of the channel at 2045, returned the next morning, and continued the proc- 
ess until 1200, 29 September, when she had discharged all her cargo. 

82 COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 16, 18 Sep 41. 

aa 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Personnel Annex W, 1-2, lists 115 officers and 3,450 enlisted men, a total of 3,665. 
a< COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC, Rpt Opn for Reinf Guadalcanal by 7th Mar, Incl F. 
86 COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 24 Sep 42. 




SUPPLIES AND REINFORCEMENTS were landed during a lull in I 
air attacks on American shipping. An LCVP (above) is unloading an erne 
supply and below, a Marine weapons carrier debarks from an LCM(2), 




INCREASING AIR AND GROUND ACTION 



I2 5 



Admiral Turner's orders on 29 September defined ships' operations more 
explicitly. Thereafter, ships of the Amphibious Force were to load cargo spe- 
cifically either for Guadalcanal or Tulagi. Unless otherwise ordered they were 
to load no more than 3,000 tons, a quantity which could be unloaded in twenty- 
four hours. Ships discharging cargo off Guadalcanal, standing in the open 
channel, were to unload only during daylight, but ships unloading in the 
greater security of Tulagi Harbor could unload continuously. 36 

By about 18 September logistic support of the 1st Marine Division had im- 
proved sufficiently to restore full rations to all combat troops. By the end of the 
month, the Guadalcanal garrison's troop strength was still low; 19,251 men 
were on Guadalcanal, 3,260 on Tulagi. 37 

Actions on the Matani\au 

The addition of the 7th Marines to the Lunga garrison and the arrival of 
more aircraft at Henderson Field made possible an improvement of the Lunga 
Point defenses. For the first time, General Vandegrift was able to establish a 
complete perimeter defense. On 19 September he divided the Lunga area into 
ten sectors. Defenses of the seven inland sectors on the west, east, and south 
were strengthened by the addition of infantry battalions. Two battalions con- 
stituted the division reserve. Each infantry regiment was to maintain one bat- 
talion in reserve, under regimental control but available for commitment by 
division headquarters if necessary. The 3d Defense Battalion, commanded by 
Colonel Pepper, with the 1st Special Weapons Battalion attached, continued to 
be responsible for providing beach and antiaircraft .defense. Each night the 
three beach sectors were to be strengthened by men of the pioneer, engineer, 
and amphibian tractor battalions who performed their regular duties during the 
day and helped to man the beach lines after dark. 

The defense thus established was generally circular. Though some areas 
could not be strongly held, there were no exposed flanks and no large gaps. The 
southern (inland) area still posed problems which could not be completely 
solved. Positions on open ridges could be organized in depth, but on the low 
ground the dense vegetation prevented the establishment of completely mu- 
tually supporting positions. There were not enough men to carry out the enor- 

86 COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC, FE 25/4, 29 Sep 42, Ser 00206, sub: Instructions for ships furnishing logistic 
support to Cactus and Ringbolt. This order is in the Office of Naval Records and Library. 

87 1 st Mar Div Rpt, V, Personnel Annex W. 



126 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



mous task of clearing fields of fire for a line which ran through 14,000 yards of 
jungle. Whenever possible the main line of resistance followed the hills and 
ridges. The field fortifications included foxholes and splinter-proof machine 
gun emplacements of logs and sandbags. Sufficient barbed wire had been 
brought to the marines to enable them to begin to wire in the whole front be- 
hind two bands of double apron fence with trip wires between the bands. The 
nth Marines, strengthened by the 75-mm. pack howitzers of the 1st Battalion, 
remained grouped inside the perimeter to provide fire support to all sectors. 

Although this cordon defense was far from ideal, it provided strong fire 
power and presented a continuous line to prevent enemy infiltration. It was 
vulnerable to intensive artillery fire, but as General Vandegrift observed, the 
Japanese demonstrated "a lack of efficiency and a low order of professional 
technique" in the use of artillery. 38 

The division was now ready to take the offensive. After the Bloody Ridge 
engagement, division headquarters knew that a sizable enemy force was operat- 
ing from Matanikau village west of the river, in Kokumbona, and was occa- 
sionally patrolling Mount Austen. These troops were from the 4th Infantry of 
the 2d Division and the Kawaguchi Force, The rest of the 4th Infantry had 
landed west of the Matanikau in mid-September to join forces with its 2d 
Battalion?* Reasonably sure that the Japanese could offer no immediate threat 
to the south and east sectors, the 1st Division planned to clear the enemy out of 
the areas to the west by a series of offensives in regimental strength. Once those 
in the Matanikau area had been driven out or destroyed, the division would be 
able to establish defense positions to keep the Japanese beyond striking distance 
of Lunga Point. 

The first plan called for operations by the newly arrived 1st Battalion, 7th 
Marines, and the 1st Raider Battalion. Lt. Col. Lewis B. Puller commanded the 
1st Battalion of. the 7th Marines; the raiders were then commanded by Lt. Col. 
Samuel B. Griffith, II. Colonel Edson, recently promoted to full colonel's rank, 
had taken command of the 5th Marines on 21 September after Colonel Hunt's 
departure for the United States. 

On 23 September Colonel Puller's battalion was to proceed southwest to 
Mount Austen, advance west along its northern slopes, and cross the Matanikau 
inland to patrol the area between the river and Kokumbona. This patrol action 
was to be concluded by 26 September. On that day the raiders were to advance 

aB istMar Div Rpt, V, 4. 

30 Amcr Div Int Rpt, Tab A; USAFISPA, Japanese Campaign in the Guadalcanal Area, p. 9. 



INCREASING AIR AND GROUND ACTION 



127 




MAP NO. 6 



west along the coast road to establish a temporary patrol base at Kokumbona 
where several inland trails intersected the coast road. Control of Kokumbona 
would not only deny a good landing beach to the Japanese, but would also pre- 
vent them from using the trails to advance inland. 

The 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, passed through the perimeter defense line 
on 23 September. (Map 6) Upon reaching the Mount Austen area, it surprised 
and scattered a Japanese force shortly after sunset on 24 September* The bat- 
talion was reinforced by the 2d Battalion of the 5th Marines the next morning. 
Two companies of the 1st Battalion were detached to escort the marine 
wounded back to the perimeter. The main body of Puller's force moved slowly 
toward the Matanikau, and reached the river the next day, 25 September, As 



128 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Colonel Puller had been ordered to conclude his patrol on 26 September, he did 
not cross the Matanikau, but turned north and patrolled along the east bank to 
the river mouth, where he intended to cross the river. When the force reached 
the mouth it started across the sand bar, but was forced back by heavy Japanese 
mortar fire from the west bank. The colonel called for and received artillery 
support, but the fire failed to dislodge the Japanese, who were strongly 
entrenched in carefully prepared positions. 

The 1st Raider Battalion had meanwhile reached the river mouth en route 
to Kokumbona. Division headquarters ordered the raiders to join forces with 
Colonel Puller's force to attack west the next day, 27 September. Colonel Edson 
was assigned to command the combined forces, with Puller as second-in-com- 
mand. Edson ordered the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, to attack west across the 
river mouth, while the raiders moved upstream to cross the river at a stream junc- 
tion about 2,000 yards from the mouth. 

Both battalions moved to the attack in the morning, but failed to gain ground. 
The 2d Battalion was unable to establish itself on the west bank. The raiders 
meanwhile had advanced to the high ground (Hill 67) on the east bank about 
1,500 yards south of the beach where they were halted by unexpected enemy fire. 
During the previous night a Japanese force had crossed upstream to the east bank 
and occupied Hill 65, about 850 yards south of Hill 67. In the raiders' attempt to 
advance Colonel Griffith was wounded and Major Bailey, the battalion executive 
officer, was killed. 

Unable to move farther, the raider battalion sent a message to Colonel- Edson 
to explain the situation, but in the haste and excitement of battle it was badly 
phrased. Colonel Edson concluded from the message that the raiders had crossed 
the river and were meeting resistance in the village of Matanikau itself. 40 He 
decided on a new plan of attack which was based on the erroneous assumption 
that the raiders had reached Matanikau, The raiders were to resume the advance 
at 1330, while the 2d Battalion, 5th, attacked across the river mouth. Colonel 
Puller's 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, was to embark in landing craft at Kukum, 
land west of Point Cruz, and attack the Japanese in Matanikau from the rear. The 
1st Battalion, supported by fire from the destroyer Ballard, landed west of Point 
Cruz as ordered, and advanced toward the first ridge about 350 yards inland. No 

40 1 st Mar Div Rpt, V, 6. Efforts to find this message have failed, ist Marine Division staff and command 
procedures were simple, stressing verbal communication and direct contact between staffs and commanders. 
Field operations were handled orally, and written messages were usually destroyed on the spot. Col Raye P. 
Gerfen, Rpt to Hq AGF. OPD 381 Sec. IV PTO (3-15-43). 



INCREASING AIR AND GROUND ACTION 



129 



sooner had it gained the ridge than a Japanese force attacked it from both flanks 
and cut it off from the shore. 41 The acting battalion commander was killed. 

Before the battalion could be withdrawn from its dangerous position, division 
headquarters lost control of the situation. Just as the battalion was being sur- 
rounded twenty-six Japanese bombers attacked the positions in the Lunga area, 
including the division command post. "Resultant damage included the complete 
disruption of all communication facilities at the division headquarters at a time 
when reliable communication was imperative." 42 The arrangements for with- 
drawal of the 1st Battalion were completed by Colonel Edson, while division 
headquarters re-established contact with Edson over the artillery telephone line 
to the forward observers. Fortunately, the Ballard, which had withdrawn during 
the air raid, had been notified of the 1st Battalion's plight. Colonel Puller, who 
was also aware of the situation, was taken aboard the destroyer which sailed in 
close to the beach west of Point Cruz. Receiving firing data from a 1st Battalion 
sergeant using signal flags, the Ballard laid down a barrage. Puller ordered his 
battalion to fight its way to the beach at all costs. The battalion successfully cut 
through the enemy, reached the beach, and boarded landing craft which had 
come up from Lunga Point. All the wounded men were brought out safely, and 
by nightfall the battalion had returned to the Lunga perimeter. Once Puller's 
battalion was safe, the raiders and the 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, also withdrew. 
In this hastily planned, unsuccessful action, the marines lost 60 killed and 100 
wounded. 

The next offensive came ten days later. Its object was to establish a line far 
enough to the west to keep the Japanese beyond artillery range of Henderson 
Field. Information from higher headquarters, coastwatchers, aerial reconnais- 
sance, and ground patrols indicated that the Japanese were building up strength 
in the west in preparation for offensive action. Opposing patrols were clashing 
daily on the east bank of the Matanikau. Japanese 150-mm. guns capable of inter- 
dicting Henderson Field from Kokumbona were landed in late September. The 
1st Marine Division therefore determined to trap and destroy the enemy near 
Point Cruz, and drive any survivors west beyond the Poha River, about 9,000 
yards west of Point Cruz. If this operation succeeded a patrol base could be estab- 
lished at Kokumbona, and the airfield would be safe from artillery fire. 

The divisions plan of attack called for the 5th Marines (less, one battalion) 
to execute a holding attack at the mouth of the Matanikau River, crossing the 

41 Sec ltr, Col Samuel B. Griffith, II, USMC, to Hist Sec, Hq, USMC, 6 Oct 45, in USMC HIST Sec files. 

42 istMarDiv Rpt, V, 7. 




MARINE MISSION TO THE MATANIKAU. Leaving its bivouac area in the defense 
perimeter, a Marine patrol crosses the Lunga River near its mouth, en route to the 7 October 
line of departure on Matani\au* 




POSITIONS ON HILL 67 marked the farthest point of advance of the 1st Raider Battalion 
in the 27 September attempt to drive the Japanese out of the Point Cruz area. Two fingers of 
Hill 67 (left foreground and right) stretch toward the Matani\au River in the ravine and 
Hill 75 beyond. Point Cruz is seen on the left horizon. 



INCREASING AIR AND GROUND ACTION 



river on divisional order, while the 7th Marines (less one battalion) and one re- 
inforced battalion enveloped Point Cruz. The reinforced battalion, commanded 
by Col. William J. Whaling, was composed of the 3d Battalion of the 2d Marines 
and the Division Scout-Sniper Detachment, a detachment which Colonel Whal- 
ing had personally trained on Guadalcanal in an effort to improve the quality of 
patrolling. The Whaling Group was to follow the 5th Marines along the coast 
road, then turn southwest and advance inland to a point about 2,000 yards south- 
west of the river mouth where the Matanikau is narrow. The group was to cross 
the river on a bridge made of logs thrown across the stream and then turn right 
(north) to attack. The ridges west of the Matanikau, from 200 to 300 feet in 
height, run from north to south. The Whaling Group was to attack north along 
the first ridge west of the river. The 7th Marines (less one battalion) was to follow 
the Whaling Group across the river, advance beyond the first ridge, and attack 
northward with battalions abreast on the left of the Whaling Group. If these 
attacks succeeded in reaching the beach and destroying the Japanese, the 5th 
Marines would pass through the Whaling Group and the 7th Marines to attack 
west toward Kokumbona. The 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, was in reserve. 

The 1st Marine Air Wing was to support the offensive with dive bombing 
and strafing. Officers of the attacking infantry forces were assigned as air forward 
observers to radio target data to the supporting aircraft. The wing was also to 
provide liaison planes for the infantry and spotting planes for the artillery. The 
1st Battalion, nth Marines, was to provide direct artillery support to the 7th 
Marines; the 2d Battalion, to the 5th Marines; the 5th Battalion, to the Whaling 
Group. The 3d Battalion was to cover the perimeter while the other three were 
engaged. 43 

The Japanese had also prepared a plan of attack which was markedly similar 
to that of the Marines. In preparation for the counteroffensive against Lunga 
Point the ijth Army and the 2d Division had ordered the 4th Infantry, com- 
manded by Col, Tadamasu Nakaguma, 44 to seize positions east of the Matanikau 
about 8 October for use by the artillery. 45 The 1st Battalion of the 4th Infantry 
was to occupy the Point Cruz area and cross the Matanikau at its mouth while the 
3d Battalion made a crossing farther inland. 46 Should the 4th Infantry's attack 
succeed, the Japanese would be able to deny to the marines the Matanikau River, 

48 1 st Mar Div Opn Plan No. 2-42, 6 Oct 42, in 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Annex D. 
" XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, 2d Div Org, p. 1. 
" istMarDiv Rpt, V, 13. 

" USAFISPA, Japanese Campaign in the Guadalcanal Area, pp. 1 3-14. 



132 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 




MAP NO. 7 



one of the best defense lines west of the Lunga. Fortunately the marines struck 
before the enemy could execute his entire plan. 

The attacking marines passed through the perimeter defense line near 
Kukum at 0700, 7 October, en route to the line of departure on the Matanikau. 
(Map 7) About 1005 the advance guard of the 3d Battalion of the 5th Marines, 
marching along the coast road, met enemy fire several hundred yards east of the 
river. The 3d Battalion deployed and forced the enemy slowly back toward the 
river, while the 2d Battalion moved to the left around the 3d. Meeting no oppo- 
sition, the 2d Battalion reached the river by 1148. The Whaling Group and the 7th 
Marines, having turned southwest in column, advanced about 3,000 yards toward 



INCREASING AIR AND GROUND ACTION 



133 



Hill 65. They met light rifle fire but reached Hill 65 safely and bivouacked there 
for the night. 

Some Japanese had escaped over the river, but others had meanwhile halted 
part of the 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, just short of the east bank of the river, and 
retained a small bridgehead about 400 yards south of the river mouth. One com- 
pany of the 1st Raider Battalion, then at about one-half its authorized strength, 
moved up to reinforce the 5th Marines' right flank. 

During the night of 7-8 October the 5th Marines and the raider company 
held a i ? 5oo-yard front extending inland from the river mouth, and bowed to the 
east around the Japanese bridgehead. The Whaling Group and the 7th Marines 
occupied bivouac areas on high ground overlooking the river about 800 yards 
southeast of the 5th Marines' left flank. To divert the Japanese from the envelop- 
ing force, the 5th Marines noisily simulated preparations for an immediate river 
crossing. Amphibian tractors rumbled up and down the coastal area behind the 
lines to convince the Japanese that they were threatened by a tank attack across 
the river mouth. Otherwise the night was uneventful. 

The attack across the river had originally been set for 8 October, but as heavy 
rains on that day turned the ground into mud, made the coral ridges slippery, 
and impeded air operations, the attack was postponed until the next day. 47 The 
5th Marines and the raiders continued to reduce the Japanese bridgehead on the 
east bank. At 1800 some of the Japanese, climbing out of their standing-type fox- 
holes, attempted to break out through the right of the line which was lightly 
held. In mass formation they struck against the raiders' right flank. Running 
abreast, the front ranks fired small arms while the rear ranks threw grenades 
over the heads of the first rank. In the gathering dusk a sharp hand-to-hand fight 
ensued between the Japanese and a small group of raiders. Casualties on both 
sides were heavy. Some of the surviving Japanese broke out, but were trapped 
and killed against the barbed wire barricade which the marines had erected over 
the sand bar. 48 Elsewhere the night of 8-9 October was quiet except for inter- 
mittent rifle and machine-gun fire. 

At this point the nature of the offensive had to be changed. Division head- 
quarters, warned on 8 October that the impending Japanese counteroffensive 
would employ strong reinforcements, canceled its plans to attack toward Kokum- 
bona and the Poha and turned the operation into a large-scale raid against the 

47 CG 1st Mar Div to COMSOPAC, 2245 of 8 Oct 42. SOP AC War Diary. 

" 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, n ; Annex P (5th Mar Record of Events), 5; Lt Col Russel P. Reeder, Fighting on 
Guadalcanal (OPD, WDGS, 1943), pp. 21-22. 



r 34 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Point Cruz area. With the enemy threatening to attack in strength, it was neces- 
sary to hold the Lunga perimeter with all available forces, then amounting to 
19,000 men. To send troops more than one day's march from the Lunga perimeter 
involved a greater risk than General Vandegrif t felt was feasible. 

By 9 October the remaining Japanese east of the Matanikau had been killed. 
The weather had cleared; the troops were rested. The Whaling Group, followed 
by the 7th Marines, left its bivouac, crossed the Matanikau, climbed the first ridge, 
and rapidly attacked north along Hills 73 and 75 to the coastal area. The 2d 
Battalion of the 7th Marines, commanded by Lt. Col. H. H. Hanneken, advanced 
about 800 yards west of the river and turned right to attack over Hill 72 to Point 
Cruz. Hanneken's battalion met only light enemy fire. Colonel Puller's 1st Bat- 
talion, 7th Marines, advanced about 1,200 yards beyond the Matanikau and at- 
tacked north along a 2,000-yard ridge (Hills 66-81-80). The 1st Battalion met 
stronger Japanese resistance. One group of Japanese held positions in a deep 
ravine on the 1st Battalion's left between Hills 81-80 and the hill mass on the 
west, Hill 83. Calling on the nth Marines for artillery fire to cover his front; the 
battalion commander directed the battalion mortars to fire into the ravine. When 
their positions were hit by this mortar fire, the Japanese attempted to escape from 
the ravine by climbing the steep, open, eastern slopes of Hill 83, where they were 
easy targets for rifle and machine-gun fire. Some returned to the ravine, which 
was still under mortar fire. 

When his mortar ammunition ran out, Colonel Puller withdrew his battalion 
according to instructions, and by 1400 the whole enveloping force — the Whaling 
Group and the 2d and 1st Battalions of the 7th Marines — had crossed east over 
the mouth of the Matanikau to return to Lunga Point. The withdrawal was 
covered by the 5th Marines. The nth Marines had fired 2,188 75-mm. rounds 
and 1,063 105-mm. rounds in support of the three-day operation. 49 A marine 
patrol later found a Japanese officer's diary which indicated that the 4th Infantry 
had lost nearly 700 men during the three days. 50 The Marines lost 65 killed, 125 
wounded. 

Thus far during the campaign the ground engagements that had been fought 
were hot, sharp actions involving relatively small forces. But the Japanese were 
preparing for a much larger operation. 

* B rst Mar Div Rpt, V, Arty Annex R. 
60 isc Mar Div Rpt, V, 12. 



CHAPTER VI 

The October Counteroffensive 



The Japanese, who had been planning for a full-scale counteroffensive ever 
since August, had completed their preparations by October, and were ready to 
strike. The first attempts by the inadequate Ichikj and Kawaguchi Forces had 
failed to dislodge the marines from their defenses around the airfield. The early 
Japanese estimates of American strength had proved to be disastrously low. Maj. 
Gen. Shuicho Miyazaki wrote later that, while in Tokyo prior to becoming Chief 
of Staff of the iph Army, he had lacked exact knowledge of American strength. 
"Does the American force which landed on Guadalcanal on August 7th," he had 
asked himself, "represent the entire enemy force committed to this campaign, or 
is it only the spearhead of a large counter-offensive ? If it is the former, our opera- 
tions will most certainly be successful. But if it is the latter, victory or defeat hangs 
in the balance." 1 

When the Japanese planned their operation in the spring of 1942, Miyazaki 
wrote, they hoped to sever the line of communications between the United States 
and Australia with two separate thrusts. One had as its goal Port Moresby 
in New Guinea, while the other, an advance through the Solomons, was aimed at 
the Fijis, Samoa, and New Caledonia. The Allied offensive in August, however, 
had turned these two thrusts into a single campaign. 2 Operations against Port 
Moresby, which had been repulsed in May at the Battle of the Coral Sea, had 
meanwhile been resumed by one small force moving overland across the Papuan 
Peninsula of New Guinea. 

After August, ijth Army Headquarters at Rabaul raised its estimates of 
American strength on Guadalcanal but still made serious miscalculations. It 
believed that 7,500 American troops were holding Lunga Point on 19 September. 3 
Actually, U. S. strength on Guadalcanal at the end of September was above 19,- 
000 and rose to over 23,000 on 13 October. 

1 Miyazaki, Personal Account, p. i. 

2 Ibid., p. 5. 

3 ATIS, SCAP: Int Rpts, Yazawa Butai and Oki Shudan Gp Hq, Int Rec No. 33, p. 93; see also ATIS 
SCAP, trans, interrog o£ Hyakutake, Maruyama, Miyazaki, Konuma, and Tajima. 




REINFORCEMENTS LANDED AT LUNGA POINT did not appear numerically great 
and, possibly, deceived the Japanese into underestimating American strength. These craft 
( above ) came in at Lunga Lagoon t just east of the point. Henderson Field is seen beyond the 
smo\e of coo\ing -fires. 



THE OCTOBER COUNTEROFFENSIVE 



137 



Japanese Strategy 

On the basis of erroneous estimates, General Hyakutake had been preparing 
elaborate plans for the recapture of Lunga Point even before the Kawaguchi 
Force had reached Guadalcanal. The first plan, issued on 28 August and altered 
several times afterward, established the basic concept for the Japanese counter- 
offensive which was to begin in October. General Hyakutake intended to com- 
mand the operation on Guadalcanal personally. The Kawaguchi Force was to 
secure positions east and west of the Matanikau to cover a projected landing by a 
fresh division, to secure a line of departure, and to harass the Lunga defenses 
while a strong artillery force prepared to neutralize Henderson Field. The ifth 
Army was to arrange for the transport of the necessary troops from Rabaul. Once 
the troops reached Guadalcanal and completed their preparations for the attack, 
they were to '\ . . capture the enemy positions, especially the airfield and artillery 
positions in one blow." General Hyakutake also considered sending one force 
in an amphibious assault "behind the enemy." 4 "The operation to surround and 
recapture Guadalcanal," he grandiloquently announced, "will truly decide the 
fate of the control of the entire Pacific area " 5 

Once Lunga Point was retaken, the Japanese planned* to seize Rennell, 
Tulagi, and San Cristobal. During this phase, ijth Army reserve forces and the 
Imperial Navy were to intensify the attacks against General MacArthur's force 
in New Guinea. Port Moresby was to be taken by the end of November. 6 Because 
the importance of Guadalcanal prevented planes, warships, and troop transports 
from being sent from the Solomons to New Guinea, the Japanese were forced to 
finish the Guadalcanal campaign before attempting to reinforce New Guinea. 7 

The Japanese offensive against Guadalcanal was to be a joint operation. In 
September iyth Army representatives met at Truk with the commanders of the 
Combined and the Southeastern Fleets to plan the attack, which was tentatively 
set for 21 October. 8 Japanese warships were to co-operate fully until two weeks 
after the fresh division had landed. 

Drawing troops for the projected operation from China, the East Indies, the 
Philippines, and Truk on orders fro.m Imperial General Headquarters, the Japan- 

* Interrog of Maruyama, Miyazaki, Konuma, and Tajima, 31 Aug 46, App. by 1st Demob Bureau, Sum- 
mary of iyth Army Plan. 

6 USAFISPA, Japanese Campaign in the Guadalcanal Area, p. 8. 
8 Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab C, App. 12: iyth Army Opn Ord, 5 Oct 42. 
T Miyazaki, Personal Account, p. 2. 
B USSBS, Interrogations, II, 468. 



i 3 8 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



ese assembled, by October, a strong force in Rabaul and the Solomons under the 
ijth Army's command. The infantry units consisted of two divisions, one brigade, 
and one reinforced battalion. Supporting them were three independent anti- 
aircraft artillery battalions, three field antiaircraft artillery battalions, one field 
antiaircraft artillery battery, one heavy field artillery regiment plus extra batteries, 
one tank regiment and one tank company, one independent mountain artillery 
regiment and one independent mountain artillery battalion, one engineer regi- 
ment, one trench mortar battalion, and a reconnaissance plane unit. 9 Of these, 
the brigade and the reinforced battalion {Kawaguchi and Ickihj Forces) and ad- 
ditional battalions of the 4th Infantry had already met defeat on Guadalcanal. 

The 2d and 38th Divisions, forming the bulk of the main infantry force 
which had been assembled, had formerly belonged to the 16th Army. In March 
1942 the 2d Division, which had been recruited in Sendai in the Miyagi Prefecture 
of Honshu, had moved from Manchuria to Java as a garrison force. In July 1942 
the 4th Infantry was detached for service in the Philippines, while the 16th and 
2Qth Regiments remained in Java. In August 1942 the entire division was trans- 
ferred to Rabaul and the Shortland Islands. 10 

The 38th Division had been organized in September 1939 in Nagoya in the 
Aichi Prefecture of Honshu. A triangular division, it consisted of the 228th, 22gth, 
and 230th Infantry Regiments. In 1941, it took part in the siege of Hong Kong, 
after which its regiments were detached. One detachment, the reinforced 228th 
Infantry under Maj. Gen. Takeo Ito, assisted in the capture of Amboina and 
Timor. One battalion of the 229M Infantry also helped to take Timor, while the 
remainder of the regiment campaigned in Sumatra. The 230th Infantry had 
served in the Java campaign. The division then reassembled at Rabaul in late 
September 1942. 11 The 4th Heavy Field Artillery Regiment (150-mm. howitzers) 
was dispatched from China in September 1942, arriving at Rabaul in early Oc- 
tober. 12 

Although the ijth Army was composed of veteran regiments, it had seldom 
operated as one unit. Likewise, the infantry divisions had seldom seen action as 
divisions. Individual regiments and battalions had campaigned actively, but had 
never fought against a foe who possessed superior numbers, equipment, or strong 
defensive positions. 

e AT1S, SCAP: trans, tst Demob Bureau, OB of 17th Army. 

10 XI V Corps, Enemy Opns, 2d Div Inj, p. 1 . 

11 Ibid., 38th Div Hist, p. 1. 
x% lbid. t 17th Army OB, p. 5. 



THE OCTOBER COUNTEROFFENSIVE 



J 39 



The movement of Japanese forces from Rabaul and the northern Solomons 
to Guadalcanal, already begun in August, increased rapidly during Septetnber 
and October. By destroyer, by landing craft, by cargo ship and transport the 
enemy soldiers sailed down the inter-island channels to land on the beaches west 
of the Matanikau River under cover of darkness, while destroyers covered the 
landings by bombarding Lunga Point. The Allied forces which might have op- 
posed them were too few in number to be risked in action north of Guadalcanal, 
and at night the darkness and clouds helped to hide the Japanese ships from 
Henderson Field aircraft. 

By mid-October General Hyakutake had assembled a sizable portion of his 
army, except the main body of the 38th Division, on Guadalcanal. The 2d Division 
and two battalions of the 38th Division were ready to fight beside the survivors of 
the Ichikj and Kawaguchi Forces. In addition there were present one regiment 
and three batteries of heavy field artillery, two battalions and one battery of field 
antiaircraft artillery, one battalion and one battery of mountain artillery, one 
mortar battalion, one tank company, and three rapid-fire gun battalions. Engi- 
neer, transport, and medical troops, and a few Special Naval Landing Force 
troops were also 011 the island. These forces, about 20,000 men, though below 
full strength, represented the largest concentration of Japanese troops on Guadal- 
canal up to that time. 18 

The U. S. Situation 

The Americans on Guadalcanal thus faced a serious enemy threat. Yet as late 
as 5 October South Pacific Headquarters had not definitely decided to send addi- 
tional reinforcements to the 1st Marine Division. Though deferred, the plans for 
occupying Ndeni in the Santa Cruz Islands had not been canceled. The purpose 
of holding Ndeni, 335 nautical miles east-southeast of Henderson Field and about 
300 nautical miles north-northwest of Espiritu Santo, was threefold: to deny it to 
the Japanese; to protect the right flank of the Allied line of communications to 
Guadalcanal; and to provide an intermediate airfield for short range aircraft to 
stage through while en route from Espiritu Santo to Guadalcanal. 14 Admiral 
Nimitz had recommended early in September that Ndeni be occupied sometime 

ia The figure is derived from a graph in ijtk Army Opns, II. USAFISPA, Japanese Campaign in the 
Guadalcanal Area, pp. 16-17, estimates 22,000; XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, lyth Army Hist, p. 2, estimates 25- 
28,000. 

14 Harmon, The Army in the South Pacific, Ref D. 



140 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



later at a date to be determined by Admiral Ghormley. 15 Dispatches between 
Admirals King and Ghormley in late September discussed the possibility of using 
the 8th Marines of the 2d Marine Division for the Santa Cruz operation. On 29 
September Admiral Ghormley announced that he was planning to occupy Ndeni 
with a part of that regiment, which was then in need of more training. On the 
same day he rejected Admiral Turner's suggestion that one battalion of the 2d 
Marines be withdrawn from the Guadalcanal-Tulagi area for Ndeni. 16 Admiral 
Turner then suggested transporting one Army infantry battalion, some Army 
field artillery, a detachment of the 5th (Marine) Defense Battalion, and naval 
construction forces to Ndeni in two transports and one cargo ship. These forces 
were to be followed by a second Army infantry battalion, one Army antiaircraft 
artillery regiment, and one Army coast artillery battery, transported in five ships. 17 

General Harmon, the Army commander in the South Pacific, regarded the 
entire Ndeni project as unsound and unnecessary. When Admiral Ghormley 
tentatively agreed to Admiral Turner's proposal, General Harmon, in a letter to 
Admiral Ghormley dated 6 October 1942, reviewed the reasons for the Ndeni 
operation in the light of the situation on Guadalcanal. (Appendix A) Ndeni, he 
wrote, would yield sparse results for two or three months, and was not vital to 
the security of the South Pacific. As long as Allied forces could operate from 
Espiritu Santo, the Japanese could not operate in strength from Ndeni. Since 
nearly all Allied aircraft could fly directly from Espiritu Santo to Guadalcanal, 
Ndeni was not needed as a staging base. 

Occupation of Ndeni, General Harmon pointed out, would divert strength 
from the main effort. The situation on Guadalcanal was exceedingly grave, for if 
the Japanese were to use artillery against the airfield they could cause serious 
damage. If the beachhead on Guadalcanal fell, then the Ndeni operation would 
be a complete waste. The main effort must be in the Solomons. If the beachhead 
on Guadalcanal did not hold, the Japanese would have an outpost to protect the 
Bismarcks and to cover New Guinea, as well as a point of departure for advances 
to the south. "It is my personal conviction," he wrote, "that the Jap is capable of 
retaking Cactus-Ringbolt [Guadalcanal-Tulagi] and that he will do so in the 
near future unless it is materially strengthened." But if Guadalcanal was strength- 
ened, the airfield improved for heavy bombers, and naval surface operations 
intensified, the enemy would not make the costly attempt to retake Lunga Point. 



15 CINCPAC to COMINCH, 2013 of 3 Sep 42. SOP AC War Diary. 

16 COMSOPAC to COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC, 0206 of 29 Sep 42. SOPAC War Diary. 

17 COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC to COMSOPAC, 0430 of 1 Oct 42. SOPAC War Diary. 



THE OCTOBER COUNTEROFFENSIVE 



l 4 I 



General Harmon therefore recommended: (1) that the Ndeni operation be 
deferred until the southern Solomons were secure, (2) that Guadalcanal be rein- 
forced by at least one more regimental combat team, (3) that naval surface opera- 
tions in the Solomons be increased, and (4) that sufficient airdrome construction 
personnel and equipment be sent to Guadalcanal. What was needed at Henderson 
Field, he stated, was two all-weather runways, improved dispersal facilities and 
fueling systems, a standing fuel supply of at least 250,000 gallons, and intensive 
air operations from Guadalcanal against the northern Solomons. 18 

After Admiral Ghormley received this letter he conferred with Admiral 
Turner and General Harmon on the evening of 6 October. 19 After the conference 
Admiral Ghormley announced his intention to proceed with the plan to occupy 
Ndeni and build a landing strip. As it seemed likely that the Japanese would try 
to recapture the Lunga airfield, he accepted General Harmon's recommendations 
that Guadalcanal be reinforced by one Army regiment and that the island's air- 
drome facilities be improved. 20 

Reinforcements would prove valuable, for General Vandegrift could then 
safely enlarge the defense perimeter around Henderson Field to protect it from 
enemy fire. Although casualties from enemy action had not been prohibitive — by 
18 September 848 wounded had been evacuated 21 — the 1st Marine Division was 
beginning to suffer heavily from tropical diseases. The enervating, humid heat, 
skin infections caused by fungi, and inadequate diet had weakened the troops. A 
mild form of gastro-enteritis had appeared in August. Although it caused only 
one death, this disorder made many temporarily unfit for duty and lowered their 
resistance to other diseases. During the third week in August malaria had first 
appeared among the troops. Suppressive atabrine treatment had been inaugurated 
on 10 September, but the disease had gained such a foothold that it was to become 
the most serious medical problem of the campaign. It sent 1,960 men of the divi- 
sion into the hospital during October. 22 

The force selected for the reinforcement of Guadalcanal was the 164th 
Infantry Regiment of the Americal Division, which was then in New Caledonia. 
The regiment was immediately alerted for movement, and began loading the 

18 Army in the South Pacific, Rcf D. 

" Rpt, COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC to COMSOPAC, Reinf Guadalcanal by 164th Inf, in COMAMPHIB- 
FORSOPAC War Diary, 17 Oct 42. 

S0 Memo, COMGENSOPAC for WDCSA, 7 Oct 42. OPD 381 PTO Sec. Ill (10-7-42); Army in the 
South Pacific, p. 3. 

S1 USMC, Guadalcanal Campaign, p. 52. 

22 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Med Annex X. 



142 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Zeilin and the McCawley, the flagship of the South Pacific Amphibious Force, 
at 0800, 8 October, at Noumea. The 147th Infantry (less two battalions), Col. W. 
B. Tuttle commanding, which was then at Tongatabu, was selected for Ndeni. 
The McCawley and Zeilin, loaded on 8 October, sailed from Noumea the next 
morning with the troops, weapons, and supplies of the 164th Infantry, 210 men 
of the 1st Marine Air Wing, 85 Marine casuals, and cargo for the 1st Marine 
Division. 23 Three destroyers and three mine layers escorted the transports, while 
four cruisers and five destroyers under Rear Adm. Norman Scott covered their 
left flank. 24 

The McCawley and the Zeilin sailed safely from Noumea to Guadalcanal, 
and arrived off Lunga Point to discharge troops and cargo at 0547, 13 October. 
Though interrupted twice during the day by Japanese bombing raids, the ships 
landed 2,852 men of the 164th Infantry, 210 of the 1st Marine Air Wing, and 85 
casuals, plus forty-four ^-ton trucks (jeeps), twenty ^ton trucks, seventeen 
i^-ton trucks, sixteen British Bren gun carriers, twelve 37-mm. guns, 25 five units 
of fire, seventy days' rations, sixty days' supplies, complete tentage, and 1,000 
ships' tons of cargo for the 1st Marine Division and the naval units. The 164th 
Infantry supplies which were landed totaled over 3,200 ships' tons. 26 The Mc- 
Cawley and Zeilin, completely unloaded, embarked the 1st Raider Battalion and 
sailed out of Sealark Channel before nightfall to return to Noumea. 

The first naval craft to be permanently based at Tulagi, aside from harbor 
patrol boats, were four boats of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3, which the 
destroyers Southard and Hovey had towed in on 12 October. The Jamestown, 
arriving at Tulagi on 22 October, stayed there as a service ship for the torpedo 
boat squadron, which was brought to full strength on 25 October by the arrival 
of four more boats. 

Before the Japanese counteroffensive in late October, therefore, the 1st Marine 
Division had been materially strengthened. With these reinforcements, troop 
strength on Guadalcanal and Tulagi totaled 27,727 of all services: 23,088 men 
were on Guadalcanal, the remainder on Tulagi. 27 

28 Rpt, COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC to COMSOPAC, Reinf Guadalcanal by 164th Inf. 

8i COMSOPAC to CTF 63, CTG 17.8, 1402 of 8 Oct 42. SOP AC War Diary; see also ONI, USN, Combat 
Narratives: Solomon Islands Campaign, IV, Battle of Cape Esperance, 11 October 1942 (Washington, 1943), 
for a fuller account of naval operations. 

26 COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 13 Oct 42. 

26 Rpt, COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC to COMSOPAC, Reinf Guadalcanal by 164th Inf ; 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, 
Personnel Annex W, states that 2,837 of the 164th were landed. 

27 1 st Mar Div Rpt, V, Personnel Annex W, 2. 



THE OCTOBER COUNTEROFFENSIVE 



M3 




MAP ATO. 8 



When Admiral Ghormley ordered the 164th Infantry to Guadalcanal, Gen- 
eral Vandegrif t decided to establish permanent positions on the east bank of the 
Matanikau River, occupied in the offensive of 7-9 October. (Map 8) Domina- 
tion of the mouth of the Matanikau was essential to the defense of Henderson 
Field. The rough terrain and thick jungles on the Matanikau effectively prevented 
heavy equipment from crossing the unbridged river at any point except over the 
sand bar at the mouth. Since tanks, trucks, and artillery pieces could cross the 
river over the bar, the Japanese, had they been able to dominate the position, 
could have put their tanks across it to deploy for attack against the perimeter 
defense. Had they been able to emplace artillery on the east bank, they might 
have damaged the Lunga positions and the airfield even more heavily than they 
did in October. 

Two infantry battalions and elements of the 1st Special Weapons Battalion 
were assigned to hold the Matanikau. They established a horseshoe-shaped posi- 
tion, running from the mouth along the east bank to a point about 2,000 yards 
inland. They refused the right flank along the beach and the left flank east along 
the ridge line of Hill 67, a strong defensive position. The marines cleared fields 
of fire, rigged booby traps, and laid personnel and antitank mines in front. Several 



i 4 4 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



37-mm. antitank guns, with 75-mm. tank destroyers concealed near by in support, 
covered the sand bar, which was illuminated at night by headlights salvaged 
from damaged amphibian tractors. There were not enough troops to hold the 
beach and jungle between the forward Matanikau position and the perimeter 
defense; patrols covered the gaps each day. 

The arrival of the 164th Infantry on 13 October permitted General Vande- 
grift to make further changes in the Lunga perimeter defense. The 22,000-yard- 
long perimeter line was divided into five regimental sectors. 28 As it was believed 
that the enemy would be most likely to attack from the west, the heaviest strength 
was concentrated in the western sectors. In Sector One, 7,100 yards of beach on 
Lunga Point, the 3d Defense Battalion, with the 1st Special Weapons Battalion 
attached, had tactical command, and co-ordinated the related functions of beach 
defense and antiaircraft fire. The amphibian tractor, engineer, and pioneer troops 
continued to hold the beach lines at night. 

The 164th Infantry, Col. Bryant E. Moore commanding, and elements of the 
1st Special Weapons Battalion were assigned to Sector Two, the longest infantry 
sector. This 6,6oo-yard line extended along the beach from the 3d Defense Bat- 
talion's right flank to the Ilu River, inland along the Ilu about 4,000 yards, and 
west through the jungle to the left flank of the 7th Marines. The 7th Marines 
(less one battalion) occupied Sector Three, about 2,500 yards of jungle between 
the 164th Infantry's right and the Lunga River, including the south slopes of 
Bloody Ridge. The 1st Marines (less one battalion) held Sector Four, about 3,500 
yards of jungle between the Lunga and the left flank of the 5th Marines, who 
held Sector Five, the western corner of the perimeter. 

The 3d Battalions of both the 1st and 7th Marines held the Matanikau line, 
and were supported by parts of the 1st Special Weapons Battalion and one bat- 
talion of the nth Marines. The 1st Air Wing was to continue to provide air cover, 
close ground support, and longer-range bombardment and reconnaissance. The 
rst Tank Battalion, then held in division reserve, was to continue to reconnoiter 
areas suitable for tank action. Each sector was placed under the command of the 
respective regimental commander. Division headquarters again directed each 
sector commander to maintain one battalion in reserve to be available to the 
division if needed. 29 These were the defenses with which the Lunga garrison was 
to meet the Japanese counteroffensive in October. 

" 1st Mar Div Opn Ord No. 12-42, 13 Oct 42, in 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Annex G. 
" 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, 15. 




JAPANESE ATTACKS ON THE AIRFIELD by daylight bombers and "To{yo Express" 
warships created scenes such as this explosion of a large enemy bomb near a hanger. The 
raids were a constant danger on Guadalcanal during October, 1042. 




AMERICAN DEFENSE POSITIONS along the east ban\ 0} the Matani{au were estab- 
lished by the Marines shortly after the 7-9 October offensive. Heavily sandbagged and roofed 
over with logs, this jj-mm. position dominated the important sand bar at the mouth of the 
river. 



146 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Air and Naval Preparations 

While the iph Army troops had been landing on Guadalcanal's north coast, 
Japanese fleet units had been preparing to execute their part of the plan. The 
strongest Japanese naval force assembled since the Battle of Midway left Truk 
to assemble at Rabaul for the offensive. Bombers from the Southwest Pacific had 
been attacking Rabaul regularly, but they had inflicted little damage and pre- 
sented no great threat to the assembling fleet. 30 Japanese submarines had deployed 
southward in August and September to try to cut the American supply lines lead- 
ing to Guadalcanal, 31 and warships escorted ijth Army convoys to Guadalcanal 
and shelled the airfield almost every night. As long as American aircraft could 
operate from Henderson Field the Japanese could not safely bring troops and 
heavy equipment to Guadalcanal in transports and cargo ships. The nocturnal 
Tokyo Express could deliver troops in relative safety but could not carry heavy 
equipment or large amounts of supplies. The Tokyo Express warships and the 
daylight bombers therefore made a concerted effort in October to neutralize the 
Lunga airfield. 

Admiral Ghormley's naval forces were still smaller than those that the Jap- 
anese could muster, but, determined to stop the nightly naval bombardments and 
the flow of enemy reinforcements to Guadalcanal, he ordered the four cruisers and 
five destroyers under Admiral Scott to sail from Espiritu Santo to Savo by way of 
Rennell to intercept any Japanese naval units moving on Guadalcanal. Scott's 
force was also to cover the left flank of the convoy carrying the 164th Infantry to 
Guadalcanal. 

At 1345, 11 October, patrol planes from Guadalcanal discovered a Japanese 
force of four cruisers and one destroyer 32 sailing south through the Slot toward 
Guadalcanal. The Japanese had dispatched them to neutralize Henderson Field 
and thus provide greater safety for the landing of additional troops and supplies. 33 
The force was sighted again at 1810 about no miles from Guadalcanal. 

Informed of the approaching Japanese, Admiral Scott sailed from the vicinity 
of Rennell toward Cape Espcrance to be in position to stop them about midnight. 
As Scott's force neared the channel between Cape Esperance and Savo about 2232, 

30 COMSOWESPAC to COMSOPAC, 0125 of 10 Oct 42. SOP AC War Diary: Miyazaki, Personal Ac- 
count, p. 1. 

31 USSBS, Interrogations, II, 468. 

32 USSBS, Campaigns of Pacific War, App. 42, p. 117. 

33 USSBS, Interrogations, II, 456. 



THE OCTOBER COUNTEROFFENSIVE 



147 



the screens of the radars on the cruisers Boise and Helena showed five Japanese 
ships 18,000 yards to the northwest. Search planes from the cruiser San Francisco 
also reported about 2300 that one Japanese transport and two destroyers were in 
Sealark Channel, but Scott decided to attack the larger force of cruisers and 
destroyers. The transport and the two destroyers escaped. The Boise and Helena 
reported the presence of the Japanese cruisers and destroyers by voice radio to 
Admiral Scott aboard the San Francisco, but he did not attack at once. The flag- 
ship's radar was older and less efficient than that aboard the other cruisers, and 
Scott was not sure of the location of the destroyers of his force. He feared that the 
destroyers reported by the Boise and Helena might be his own. The American 
destroyers, having recently changed their course, were then to starboard (north) 
of Scott's cruisers, which were sailing on a southwesterly course. The American 
destroyers thus lay between the opposing cruiser forces. 

The Helena opened fire on the Japanese at 2346, n October; her fire was 
followed by that of the cruiser Salt Lake City, the Boise, and the destroyer Faren- 
holt. The Japanese were caught completely by surprise. The American column 
executed the classic naval maneuver of crossing the enemy's T, by sailing in col- 
umn at a right angle to, and ahead of the approaching Japanese column. The 
entire American force was thus able to concentrate salvoes on each ship as it came 
forward. Each Japanese ship, on the other hand, masked the guns of the ships in 
its rear. Two Japanese vessels sank at once; the flagship Aoba was badly dam- 
aged, and the cruiser Kinugasa suffered light damage. The surviving Japanese 
ships retired northward after thirty-four minutes of battle. The destroyer Maru- 
\amo was joined by the destroyer Natsugumo, and they returned to Savo to rescue 
survivors in the water, but both were sunk the next morning by dive bombers 
and fighters from Henderson Field. 

Scott's losses were light by comparison. The Boise, Salt La\e City, and Faren- 
holt suffered damage. The destroyer Duncan, which had pulled close to fire tor- 
pedoes at the enemy, was caught between the American and Japanese forces, hit 
by fire from both, and sank on 12 October. 34 

The victory at Cape Esperance, whose flames lit the night skies west of the 
Lunga, cheered the men in the Lunga perimeter, but its effects were short-lived. 
Two days after Admiral Scott's force stopped the Tokyo Express, the Japanese 
hit the airfield with damaging blows. Guadalcanal's air situation had steadily im- 
proved during September, for more planes had been arriving. On 22 September 

8 * USSBS, Campaigns of Pacific War, pp. 1 1 5-16. 



i 4 8 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Vandegrift reported to Ghormley that thirty F4F's, twenty-two SBD's, seven 
TBF's, and five P-400's were operational. The Naval Advanced Base at Kukum 
included an aviation unit and the 6th Construction Battalion. Air squadron per- 
sonnel totaled 1,014 — 917 men of Marine Air Group 23, 33 of the 67th Fighter 
Squadron, and 64 from the naval carrier squadrons. 35 The P-^oo's had proved 
so valuable that Vandegrift requested more to support ground operations. 36 

By 10 October twelve P~39's of the 67th Fighter Squadron had reached Hen- 
derson Field but had not yet gone into action. B-i^s were now occasionally being 
staged through Henderson Field. 37 But these operations were soon to end. 

On 13 October there were ninety operational aircraft under General Geiger's 
command at Henderson Field — thirty-nine SBD's, forty-one F4FX four P-400's, 
and six P-^'s. 38 At 1200 twenty-two Japanese bombers, escorted by fighters, flew 
over to bomb Henderson Field from 30,000 feet. They were almost unchallenged. 
The P~4oo's could reach only 12,000 feet; the P~39's could climb to 27,000. The 
F4F, a relatively slow climber, could not reach the enemy in time to intercept 
him. Between 1330 and 1400 all the American planes were forced to land for more 
gasoline. While they were being refueled, a second wave of about fifteen bombers 
attacked the field. The men of the 6th Construction Battalion worked throughout 
the afternoon in an effort to keep the field in operation. They had loaded their 
dump trucks with earth well in advance to speed the task of filling the bomb 
craters. But their efforts did not avail. The Japanese did not completely neutralize 
the runway on 13 October, but they inflicted such severe damage that General 
Geiger was forced to broadcast the information that Henderson Field could not 
be used by heavy bombers except in emergencies. 39 

After the last bomber had retired, the long-range 150-mm. howitzers which 
the Japanese had been landing opened fire on the airfield and Kukum Beach 
from positions near Kokumbona. They first made Kukum Beach untenable. 40 
The 1st Marine Division had no sound-and-flash units to locate the enemy how- 
itzers, or suitable counterbattery artillery with which to reply to "Pistol Pete," as 
the troops called the enemy artillery. The field artillery units were armed with 
75-mm. pack and 105-mm. howitzers, and the 3d Defense Battalion had emplaced 
its 5-inch gun batteries on the beach. On 13 October and the days that followed, 

315 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Personnel Annex W, 2. 

30 CO ist Mar Div to COMAIRSOPAC, 0323 of 2 Oct 42. SOPAC War Diary. 

37 Ltr, COMGENSOPAC to WDCSA, 10 Oct 42. OPD 381 PTO Sec. Ill (10-7-42). 

36 rst Mar Div Rpt, V, Avn Annex Q, 3. 

30 COMAIRWING I to all CGs Island Bases, 0217 of 13 Oct 42. SOPAC War Diary. 
40 1 st Mar Div Rpt, V, Logistics Annex Z, 2. 



THE OCTOBER COUNTEROFFENSIVE 



I 49 



the 5-inch guns and the 105-mm. howitzers attempted to silence Pistol Pete. But 
the trajectory of the 5-inch guns was too flat for effective counterbattery fire. Some 
of the 105's were moved up to the Matanikau River, but they were too light for 
effective counterbattery fire. 41 Aircraft also attempted to silence the Japanese 
artillery, but were no more successful than the artillery. 

Shortly before midnight of 13 October, a Japanese naval force which included 
the battleships Haruna and Kongo sailed unchallenged into Sealark Channel. 
While a cruiser plane illuminated the target area by dropping flares, the task force 
bombarded the airfield for eighty minutes, the heaviest shelling of the campaign. 
The battleships fired 918 rounds of 360-mm. ammunition, of which 625 were 
armor-piercing and 293 high explosive. They covered the field systematically. 
Explosions and burning gasoline lit the night brightly. In the words of a Japanese 
report, "explosions were seen everywhere, and the entire airfield was a sea of 
flame." 42 Forty-one men were killed, and many aircraft damaged. When the 
shelling had ceased, enemy bombers raided the airfield intermittently until day- 
light. On 14 October only forty-two planes would fly — seven SBD's, twenty-nine 
F4F's, four P-40o's and two P-39's. 43 An American report states: 

When the men could finally come from their foxholes and survey the damage they 
knew what had hit them. They found jagged noses of sheik measuring 14 inches in diam- 
eter — the shells from battleships' guns — and smaller pieces of shrapnel [sic]. Bits of cloth- 
ing and equipment were hanging from telephone wires. 

The field itself was in shambles. . . . The 67th [Fighter Squadron] was fortunate — only 
two P-39/s were damaged, and, miraculously, not one of the old P-^oo's was hit. 44 

The next morning a few B-i/s which had been operating temporarily from 
Henderson Field took off safely from the 2,000 feet of usable runway to return to 
Espiritu Santo. 45 The bombardments had rendered the airfield unusable as a base 
for heavy bombers. Moreover the presence of Japanese aircraft and warships over 
and in Sealark Channel prevented cargo ships from bringing in fuel, so that the 
perpetual shortage of aviation gasoline on Guadalcanal had now become more 
acute. As a result B-17's could no longer be staged through Henderson Field. 

By the afternoon of 14 October Japanese bombing and shelling had knocked 
Henderson Field out of action. Pistol Pete prevented aircraft from using the run- 

41 3d Def Bn, Action Rpt, pp. 2, 16; isc Mar Div Rpt, V, Arty Annex R, 1; del Valle, "Marine Field 
Artillery on Guadalcanal," p. 730. 

42 ATIS, SCAP, Hist Rpts, Naval Opns: Rpt Bombardment Allied Beachhead on Guadalcanal (Doc No. 
16567-B, 5 Apr 46). 

43 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Avn Annex Q, 3. 

44 67th Fighter Sq Hist, Mar-Oct 42, p. 24. 

45 Guadalcanal and the Thirteenth Air Force, p. 35. 




AFTERMATH OF THE 13-14 OCTOBER ATTACK ON THE LUNGA PERIMETER 
when Japanese bombing and shell fire tore great holes in the Marsden-matted runway (above) 
and wrecked many buildings. The shambles below was a US. radio station. 




THE OCTOBER COUNTEROFFENSIVE 



way. Fortunately the construction battalion had laid out a rough grassy runway 
southeast of Henderson Field. When dry this runway, Fighter Strip No. i, could 
be used by light planes and it served for a week as the main airfield. 

Aviation gasoline supplies had fallen to a critically low level. On the after- 
noon of 14 October a Marine staff officer informed the 67th Fighter Squadron 
that there remained just enough gasoline to mount strikes against a Japanese 
force, including transports, which patrolling SBD's had found sailing toward 
Guadalcanal The 67th was ordered to load its planes with ioo-pound bombs and 
to join the SBD's in striking at the oncoming ships. The aircraft took off and 
located the enemy before nightfall. They sank one ship and set another on fire, 
but failed to halt the convoy, which continued on toward Guadalcanal under 
cover of darkness. 46 

When day broke on 15 October, five Japanese transports and their eleven 
escorting warships were plainly visible from Lunga Point as they lay ten miles 
away at Tassafaronga unloading troops, weapons, supplies, and ammunition. 47 
The runway was pitted with shell and bomb craters. Only by searching wrecked 
planes and hunting in the jungles beside the runway for stray gasoline drums 
was enough fuel obtained for the planes to take off from the pitted runway 
to strike at the ships. The searches had yielded 400 drums, or about enough 
for two days' operations. 48 On the same day Army and Marine Corps transport 
planes (C-47's) began flying gasoline from Espiritu Santo to Guadalcanal, 
despite the fire from Pistol Pete. Each C-47 carried twelve drums. The seaplane 
tender MacFarland also ran in a load of gasoline from Espiritu Santo. Caught 
by Japanese planes in Sealark Channel on 16 October, she was seriously dam- 
aged but was salvaged by her crew in an inlet on Florida Island. 49 

American fighters and dive bombers attacked the Japanese ships on 15 
October, and, despite antiaircraft fire and the opposition of Japanese planes, 
sank one transport and set two more afire by 1100. The remaining ships and 
their escorts, under attack from both Guadalcanal aircraft and B-i7*s and SBD's 
from Espiritu, then put out to sea. One ship fell victim to the B-17's near Savo. 50 

Although the air attacks seriously damaged the Japanese transports, they 

" 67th Fighter Sq Hist, Mar-Oct 42, pp. 26-27; 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, 16. 

47 Ibid.; CG 1st Mar Div to COMSOPAC, 0005 of 16 Oct 42. SOPAC War Diary; USSBS, Allied Campaign 
Against Rabaul, p. 44. The latter source states there were six ships unloading. 

48 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Logistics Annex Z, 9, 10. 

" See ONI, USN, Combat Narratives: Miscellaneous Actions in the South Pacific, 8 August 1942-22 
January 1943 (Washington, 1943). 
50 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, 17. 



1 5 2 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



succeeded in landing all the troops — between 3,000 and 4,000 men 51 — and 80 
percent of their cargo. The soldiers included part of the 230th Infantry of the 
38th Division as well as seven companies of the 16th Infantry of the 2d Division, 
the last Japanese infantry units to land prior to the opening of the ground 
offensive against Lunga perimeter. 

That the Japanese were preparing to attack in force was all too obvious. 
General Vandegrift radioed to South Pacific Headquarters to stress his need 
for the greatest possible amount of air and surface support. 52 Admiral Ghormley, 
fully aware of the situation, requested General MacArthur to have Southwest 
Pacific aircraft search the western approaches to the southern Solomons for 
enemy aircraft carriers. 03 When the B-17's were forced off Henderson Field, 
Rear Adm. Aubrey W. Fitch, commanding South Pacific land-based aircraft, 
suggested that Southwest Pacific aircraft relieve the pressure on Guadalcanal 
by intensifying their attacks on Rabaul, Kahili, and Buka. 54 

On 16 October, Admiral Ghormley warned Admiral Nimitz that the 
Japanese effort appeared to be "all out." South Pacific forces, he stated, were 
"totally inadequate," and needed air reinforcements. 55 Naval strength had been 
seriously weakened by combat losses. The Enterprise, Saratoga, and North 
Carolina were in Pearl Harbor undergoing repairs. Admiral Nimitz ordered 
that work on the Enterprise be rushed, and on 16 October the veteran carrier 
was able to leave Pearl Harbor for the South Pacific with the South Dakota 
and nine destroyers. 56 Meanwhile Fitch's force at Espiritu Santo was increased 
to eighty-five patrol planes and heavy bombers. Southwest Pacific aircraft 
continued to support Guadalcanal by patrolling, and by bombing Rabaul and 
the fields in the northern Solomons. 

The Ground Offensive 

Japanese Tactical Plans 

General Hyakutake's units had meanwhile been confidently preparing to 
execute their part of the plan — an assault directed at the seizure of the airfield. 
The ijth Army issued tactical orders to the 2d Division on 15 October. The 

51 USSBS, Allied Campaign Against Rabaul, p. 44. 

62 CG 1 st Mar Div to COMSOPAC, 1942 of 14 Oct 42. SOP AC War Diary. 

63 COMSOPAC to COMSOWESPAC, 0730 of 14 Oct 42. SOPAC War Diary. 
54 COMAIRSOPAC to COMSOPAC, 2225 of 14 Oct 42. SOPAC War Diary. 
GB COMSOPAC ro CINCPAC, 0440 of 16 Oct 42. SOPAC War Diary. 

5n See ONI, USN, Combat Narratives: Solomon Islands Campaign, V, Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, 26 
October 1942 (Washington, 1943) for a more complete account of naval activities. 



THE OCTOBER COUNTEROFFENSIVE 



153 



main body of the 2d Division, then in the vicinity of Kokumbona, was to de- 
liver a surprise attack against the south flank of the American position on 
X Day, then tentatively set for 18 October. While the main body of the 2d 
Division, commanded by Lt. Gen. Masao Maruyama, was pushing inland to 
reach its line of departure south of the airfield, a force west of the Matanikau 
under command of Maj. Gen. Tadashi Sumiyoshi, commander of ijth 
Army artillery, was to cover its rear, divert the Americans, and shell the Lunga 
airfields and artillery positions. An amphibious attack by the 1st Battalion, 
228th Infantry, was still a part of the plan, but it was later discarded. American 
morale and strength, the Japanese believed, were declining. 57 

The coast force under Sumiyoshi's command consisted of five infantry 
battalions of about 2,900 men, one tank company, fifteen 150-mm. howitzers, 
three 100-mm. gtins, and seven field artillery pieces. 58 The units in Sumiyoshi's 
force included the 4th Infantry as well as elements of the 4th, yth, and 21st 
Heavy Field Artillery Regiments and several mountain artillery and antiair- 
craft artillery units, and perhaps tanks and part of the 124th Infantry ? % 

The enveloping force under Maruyama which was to attack Henderson 
Field from the south consisted of eight or nine infantry battalions totaling 
5,600 men, plus artillery, engineer, and medical troops. This force was divided 
into two wings. The right wing, under Kawaguchi, consisted of one battalion of 
the 124th Infantry, two battalions of the 230th Infantry, parts of the 3d Light 
Trench Mortar Battalion and the 6th and gth Independent Rapid Fire Gun Bat- 
talions, the 20th Independent Mountain Artillery, and engineers and medical 
troops. The left wing, under Maj. Gen. Yumio Nasu, was composed of the 29th 
Infantry, the 3d Light Trench Mortar Battalion (less detachments), a Rapid Fire 
Gun Battalion, a Mountain Artillery Battalion, and engineers. In reserve were 
the 16th Infantry and additional engineer units. 60 

67 Interrog of Maruyama, Miyazaki, Konuma, and Tajima, App. Gist of iyth Army Ord of 15 Oct 42; 
XIV Corps Trans, 21 Feb 43, of id Div plan of attack; iyth Army Opns, I. Both the iyth Army and the 2d 
Division issued many orders during this period, most of which revised the original plan slightly. Subsequent 
accounts of this operation given by Japanese officers are often contradictory. The account given here is based on 
the best sources available, but may err in detail. 

58 ATI S, SCAP, reproduction of 1st Demob Bureau map of 17th Army Oct 42 opns. 

58 ijth Army Opns, I, docs not show the tanks or any part of the 124th Infantry under Sumiyoshi's 
command, although they must have been, as the results of the interrogations of former iyth Army officers 
clearly show, iyth Army Opns, I, terms the 150-mm. artillery units as medium, but contemporary docu- 
ments called them heavy field artillery units. 

60 Interrog of Hyakutake, Maruyama,. Miyazaki, and Tamaki, 1st Demob Bureau data; Bureaus map; 
iyth Army Opns, I. 



'54 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Kawaguchi's wing, after working inland from Kokumbona, was to attack 
northward under cover of darkness from east of the Lunga to capture the air- 
field and destroy the American forces east of the Lunga. Nasu's left wing was 
to attack northward from a point between Kawaguchi and the Lunga River. 

Supremely confident that these soldiers could retake Lunga Point, General 
Hyakutake left the main body of the 38th Division at Rabaul and in the north- 
ern Solomons in readiness for operations in New Guinea. Capture of the field 
would be heralded by the code signal BANZAL 61 He directed his troops to 
continue "annihilating" the enemy until General Vandegrift, with staff officers, 
interpreters, one American flag and one white flag, had advanced along the 
coast toward the Matanikau to surrender. 62 

To get troops, guns, ammunition, and supplies into position for the attack, 
the engineers built and improved roads leading from the landing beaches east- 
ward to Kokumbona. Engineers and combat troops had also begun work in 
September on an inland trail by which the 2d Division could get into position 
south of Henderson Field. This trail, commonly known as the Maruyama 
Trail, ran southward from the iyth Army assembly area at Kokumbona, then 
turned east to cross the Matanikau and Lunga Rivers south of Mount Austen, 
and followed the Lunga River downstream (north) to a point near the Ameri- 
can perimeter, 63 It covered a distance of about fifteen miles. The Maruyama 
Trail led through the thickest of tropical jungles, where giant hardwood trees, 
vines, and undergrowth are so thick that a man cannot easily walk upright or 
see more than a few yards. The route south of Mount Austen led over an almost 
unbelievably tangled series of ridges and ravines. As sunlight never penetrates 
the treetops, the earth underfoot is wet and swampy. The Japanese- had no 
heavy road-building equipment but hacked their way by hand, using axes, 
saws, and machetes. At best they could have cleared only a path through the 
undergrowth, making no attempt to cut down the trees. Mount Austen's bulk, 
plus the jungle, would hide the advancing column from Lunga Point, and the 
overhead growth provided security from aerial reconnaissance. 

Since the Japanese had brought no horses and almost no motor transport 
on the Tokyo Express, supplies had to be brought forward by hand from as 

ai iyth Army Opns, I. 

62 XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, iyth Army Hist, pp. 5-6. 

8S Interrog of Hyakutake, Miyazaki, Maruyama, and Obara. The exact trace of the trail is not now known. 
The Japanese had no military maps of the area at the time, and the interrogated officers could not plot the trail 
on the map furnished by the author. 



THE OCTOBER COUNTEROFFENSIVE 



155 



far away as Cape Esperance. About 800 tons of supplies had to be hand-carried 
forward/' 4 The artillery pieces assigned to Maruyama were hauled forward by 
manpower. General Maruyama also ordered each soldier to carry, in addition 
to his regular equipment, one shell, 65 apparently from the supply dump near 
Kokumbona. 

On 16 October, after assembling at Kokumbona, Maruyama's troops set 
out on their grueling march toward the line of departure east of the Lunga 
River, "crossing mountains and rivers with much difficulty due to the bad roads 
and heavy terrain." 66 Progress was slow. Since the trail was narrow, the men 
marched, single file, in a long straggling column. The van would begin the 
march early each morning, but the rear elements usually could not move until 
afternoon, with the result that the 2d Division inched along like a worm. Tor- 
rential rains fell during most of the march. The troops, subsisting on half ra- 
tions of raw rice, 67 burdened with shells and full combat equipment, had to use 
ropes to scale some of the cliflfs. They also used ropes to pull the artillery pieces, 
machine guns, and mortars along the trail. As carrying and hauling the artil- 
lery pieces by manpower proved impossible, these guns were abandoned along 
the line of march. 68 

Hyakutake's confidence was somewhat justified, for he enjoyed significant 
advantages. The 150-mm. howitzers in Kokumbona outweighed the heaviest 
American howitzers on Guadalcanal. Almost nightly Japanese warships were 
sailing into Sealark Channel with impunity. The majority of the 20,000 Japanese 
troops were fresh, while many of General Vandegrift's 23,000 men were suffer- 
ing from malaria and malnutrition. The Japanese could reasonably expect to 
surprise the Americans, since the wide envelopment by Maruyama's division 
through jungled, mountainous terrain was hidden from ground or aerial ob- 
servation. 

On the other hand, the Americans were entrenched in prepared positions, 
were expecting an attack, and could place artillery fire in front of any threat- 
ened sector of the perimeter. The Japanese had no near-by airfields, and Ameri- 
can planes, though few in number, possessed local control of the air when they 
had enough gasoline, and thus limited the amount of heavy materiel which the 

" XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, Hist and Inf of Misc Units, p. 8. 
66 XIV Corps Trans, 21 Feb 43. 

66 Ibid., 14 Jul 43. 

67 1 st Mar Div Rpt, V, Int Annex N, 11. 

68 Intcrrog of Hayukutake, Miyazaki, and Maruyama. 



i 5 6 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



enemy could safely land. The Japanese lacked sufficient transport. Hyakutake 
had committed his main force to a wide enveloping march through wild, track- 
less jungle, with all the difficulties of communication, co-ordination, and con- 
trol attendant upon such a maneuver. Finally, it is doubtful that Hyakutake had 
enough reserves immediately available to exploit a break-through, even if the 
assault forces were able to penetrate the perimeter defense in strength. 
Action on the Matanikau 

The landing of the Japanese from transports on 15 October had alerted the 
1st Marine Division to a major attack by infantry, A captured map indicated 
the possibility of a triple-pronged assault by three enemy divisions from the 
east, west, and south. 69 But there were no indications that fresh Japanese forces 
had landed east of the perimeter. Air and ground patrols had not found any 
organized bodies of Japanese troops along the upper Lunga but only dispirited 
groups of hungry stragglers, most of whom were promptly killed. On the 
other hand, the increasing artillery fire and growing Japanese troop strength 
west of the Matanikau convinced the Lunga defenders that the brunt of the 
attack would fall in the west, 

Maruyama's forces, unknown to the Americans, were meanwhile slowly 
approaching the perimeter. Without good military maps, the Japanese com- 
manders were meeting difficulty in finding their way. When advance elements 
of the enveloping force failed to cross the upper Lunga before 19 October, 
Maruyama postponed the assault date until 22 October. 70 

The first ground action occurred in the Matanikau area on 20 October 
when a Japanese combat patrol from Sumiyoshi's force approached the west 
bank of the river. The patrol, which included two tanks, withdrew after a 
37-mm. gun in the sector of the 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, hit one tank. At 
sunset the next evening, after heavy Japanese artillery fire, nine Japanese tanks 
supported by infantry came out of the jungle on the west bank to attempt to 
drive east over the sand bar. But 37-mm. fire knocked out one tank and the 
force pulled back to the west. 

No Japanese infantry appeared on 22 October, but Sumiyoshi's artillery 
kept firing. On 22 October Maruyama, still short of his line of departure, put 
off the attack date to 23 October; on that date he postponed it until 24 October. 

The twenty-third of October was a quiet day until 1800, when Sumiyoshi's 
artillery began to fire its heaviest concentrations up to that time — an orthodox 

" 1 st Mar Div Rpt, V, 21. 

70 XIV Corps Trans, 14 Jul 41- 



THE OCTOBER COUNTEROFFENSIVE 



157 



preparation on the Matanikau River line, the rear areas, and the coast road. 
When the fire ceased a column of nine 18-ton medium tanks 71 appeared out of 
the jungles to try to smash a passage across the sand bar to penetrate the de- 
fenses of the 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, while the 4th Infantry assembled in 



the jungle west of the river (Map VII) To halt the infantry , the nth Marines 
immediately began firing a series of barrages to cover a 600- to 800-yard-wide 
area between the Matanikau River and Point Cruz/ 2 while the 37-mm. guns 
on the Matanikau engaged the tanks. Not one enemy infantryman succeeded 
in crossing to the east bank of the river. The antitank guns meanwhile wrecked 
eight tanks as they rumbled across the sand bar. One tank eluded the 37-mm, 
fire and crossed the bar to break through the wire entanglements. A marine 
rose out of his foxhole and threw a grenade into the tank's tracks. A 75-mm. 
self-propelled tank destroyer then approached to fire at close range. The tank 
ran down the beach into the water, where it stalled, and was finished off by the 
tank destroyer. The assault having been stopped so abruptly, the surviving Japa- 
nese infantrymen withdrew to the west. About midnight a second Japanese 
attempt to cross the river farther upstream was easily halted. 

The jungles west of the river were filled with Japanese corpses, and many 
enemy dead lay on the sand bar. The 1st Marines, with 25 killed and 14 
wounded, estimated Japanese losses at 600. 73 Marine patrols later found three 
more wrecked tanks west of the river. They had apparently been destroyed by 
the nth Marines' fire before they could reach the Matanikau. 

Sumiyoshi had sent one tank company and one infantry regiment forward 
to attack a prepared position over an obvious approach route while the Ameri- 
cans were otherwise unengaged. The Maruyama force, still moving inland, had 
not reached its line of departure. In 1946, the responsible commanders gave 
different reasons for the lack of coordination and blamed each other. According 
to Hyakutake, this piecemeal attack had been a mistake. The coastal attack was 
to have been delivered at the same time as Maruyama's forces struck against 
the southern perimeter line. Maruyama, according to Hyakutake, was to have 
notified the 4th Infantry when he had reached his line of departure on 23 Octo- 
ber, and he so notified the 4th Infantry. That regiment then proceeded with its 
attack. 74 

71 Japanese medium tanks are comparable with U. S. light tanks. These were later identified as Model 
2598 Ishikawajima Tankettes and Model 98 medium cruisers. 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Int Annex N, 9. 

72 del Valle, "Marine Field Artillery on Guadalcanal," p. 730. 
78 1 st Mar Div Rpt, V, Annex O (1st Mar Regt Hist), 2. 

74 Interrog of Hyakutake, Miyazaki, and Maruyama. 




WRECKAGE ON THE MATAN1KAU SAND BAR, torn jungle and a few enemy corpses 
were ail that remained of the Japanese attempt to breach Marine defenses east of the river 23 
October, Above are five of the nine tan\s which reached the open. The next morning the 
Marines (below), still in possession of the river mouth, nicknamed the area "Hell's Corner 'ft 




THE OCTOBER COUNTEROFFENSIVE 



159 



Maruyama disclaimed responsibility for the blunder, and blamed ijth 
Army Headquarters. His forces, delayed in their difficult march, had not 
reached their line of departure on 23 October. The ijth Army, he asserted, 
overestimated the rate of progress on the south flank and ordered the coast 
forces to attack on 23 October to guarantee success on the south flank. 75 

Sumiyoshi was vague. He claimed that throughout the counteroffensive he 
had been so weakened by malaria that he had found it difficult to make deci- 
sions. Despite an earlier statement that he did not know why the attack of 23 
October had been ordered, he declared that he had attacked ahead of Maruyama 
to divert the Americans. Communication between the two forces, he claimed, 
had been very poor. Radio sets gave off too much light, and thus had been used 
only in the daylight hours. Telephone communication had been frequently dis- 
rupted. As a result the coast force had been one day behind in its knowledge of 
Maruyama's movements. 76 
The Main Attacks 

On 24 October, the day after Sumiyoshi's abortive attack, the Lunga perim- 
eter was fairly quiet during the morning hours. Japanese artillery fire continued 
intermittently during the entire day, and killed six and wounded twenty-five 
marines. In the afternoon two events indicated that the situation was becoming 
serious for the Americans. Men of the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, holding the 
southeast line of the forward Matanikau position along Hill 67, observed a 
Japanese column passing eastward over Mount Austen's open foothills about 
1,000 yards south of their lines. This column, whose exact composition is doubt- 
ful, is reported to have been commanded by Colonel Oka. It had apparently 
crossed the upper Matanikau in an effort to outflank the forward Matanikau 
position. 77 Battalions of the nth Marines immediately put fire on the area, 
and aircraft rose to strafe and bomb it. But the column had disappeared among 
jungled ravines, and the effects of the bombing and shelling were probably 
slight. 

As earlier patrols had reported that the upper reaches of the Lunga River 
were clear of the enemy, the 2d Battalion of the 7th Marines had been with- 
drawn from Sector Three east of the Lunga prior to Sumiyoshi's attack on 23 

75 Ibid. 

76 Interrog of Sumiyoshi; iyth Army Opns, I, slurs over the blunder, but asserts that Hyakutake approved 
postponing the 2d Division's attack from 23 to 24 October. 

77 According to 1st Demob Bureau's map, this column, commanded by Colonel Oka, consisted of 1,200 
troops of the 124th Infantry (less 3d Battalion) and the 3d Battalion, 4th Infantry, This movement had appar- 
ently not been ordered in the original plan of campaign. 



i6o 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



October The entire 2,800-yard front, from the Lunga River over Bloody Ridge 
to the right flank of the 164th Infantry, was turned over to the 1st Battalion of 
the 7th Marines, commanded by Colonel Puller. The 2d Battalion of the yth. 
was ordered to the Matanikau to relieve the 3d Battalion of the 1st Marines. But 
following the Sumiyoshi attack on 23 October and the observation of the enemy 
column the next afternoon, the 2d Battalion of the 7th Marines, on 24 October, 
moved hastily into position to cover the gap between the Matanikau line and 
the Lunga perimeter. It held over 4,000 yards of front along the line between 
the left flank of the 3d Battalion, 7th, and the 5th Marines in the Lunga perim- 
eter. 

The discovery of Oka's column east of the Matanikau was followed by 
evidence that another sector was in danger. A straggler from a 7th Marines 
patrol returned to the perimeter in the late afternoon to report that he had seen 
a Japanese officer studying Bloody Ridge through field glasses. At the same 
time a marine from the Scout-Sniper Detachment reported that he had seen 
the smoke of "many rice fires" rising from the jungle near the horseshoe bend 
of the Lunga River, about 1% miles south of the southern slopes of Bloody 
Ridge. 78 It was too late in the day for further defensive measures, and the 1st 
Battalion of the 7th Marines, spread thinly over its long front, awaited the 
attack. There were then available few troops which were not already in the 
front lines. The motorized division reserve, bivouacked north of Henderson 
Field, consisted of the 3d Battalion, 2d Marines. The only other uncommitted 
infantry troops in the perimeter were the reserve battalions in each regimental 
sector. 

By 24 October Maruyama's infantry forces had finally crossed the Lunga 
River and moved into position in the dark jungles east of the Lunga and south 
of Bloody Ridge. On the left (west) the 29th Infantry, with the 16th in reserve, 
prepared to attack on a narrow front, while the Kawaguchi Force, now com- 
manded by Col. Toshinari Shoji, prepared to attack farther east. 79 The heaviest 
weapons for supporting the infantry were machine guns. All the artillery pieces 
and mortars had been abandoned along the line of march. Maruyama hoped 
that bright moonlight would provide enough light for his assaulting troops to 
maintain their direction, but clouds and heavy rainfall made the night black. so 

78 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, 23. 

19 lyth Army Opns, I. According to Sumiyoshi and Tamaki {2d Div CofS), Kawaguchi, who had advo- 
cated attacking from the southeast, had fallen out with his superiors over the plan and had been relieved before 
the battle. Neither Hyakutake, Miyazaki, nor Maruyama mentioned this. 

80 XIV Corps Trans, 14 Jul 43. 



THE OCTOBER COUNTEROFFENSIVE 



161 



The early evening hours of 24 October were quiet. A Marine listening post 
east of Bloody Ridge briefly opened fire about 2130. The front then lay quiet 
until half an hour after midnight, when Japanese infantrymen, firing rifles, 
throwing grenades, and shouting their battle cries, suddenly sprang out of the 
jungle to try to cross the fields of fire on the left center of the 1st Battalion of 
the 7th Marines east of Bloody Ridge. This was the 29th Infantry s assault, the 
only attack delivered by the Japanese that night. Shoji's wing, attempting to 
reach the perimeter in the black, rainy night, had lost direction and got in be- 
hind the 29th Infantry. The confused battalions were immediately ordered to 
the front but arrived too late to participate in the night's action. 81 

At the first attacks by the 29th Infantry, troops on the right flank of the 2d 
Battalion of the 164th Infantry opened fire to assist the 1st Battalion, 7th 
Marines. Division headquarters correctly assessed the significance of the Japa- 
nese attack. It immediately ordered the 3d Battalion of the 164th Infantry, then 
in regimental reserve in the i64th's sector, to proceed to the front and rein- 
force the Marine battalion by detachments, 82 for the 1st Battalion, 7th, was hold- 
ing a long front against heavy odds. The division reserve was not committed. 
The Army battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Robert K. Hall, was then in 
bivouac south of Henderson Field about one mile from the front lines. The 
rain was still falling heavily, and visibility was poor. By 0200 the assembled 
battalion, about to engage the Japanese infantry for the first time, had marched 
out of its bivouac area. While the Marine battalion continued to hold back the 
Japanese, the soldiers entered the lines by detachments between 0230 and 0330, 
25 October. 83 The night was so dark that the marines guided the soldiers into 
position practically by hand. The two battalions, as disposed that night, did not 
defend separate sectors, but were intermingled along the front. 

In the first wild minutes of battle the 29th Infantry overran some of the 
American positions. One platoon captured two mortar positions but was imme- 
diately destroyed by Puller's forces. 84 The nth Marines began firing barrages in 
depth in front of the threatened sector and maintained the fire throughout the 
engagament. 

The Japanese attacked with characteristic resolution all through the night, 
but every charge was beaten back by the concentrated fire of American small 

81 Interrog of Hyakutake, Miyazaki, and Maruyama. 

83 1st Mar Div RpL, V, 24; 164th Inf Unit Rpt, 25 Oct 42, 
88 164th Inf, Rpt Action Against the Enemy, p. 1. 

84 XIV Corps Trans, 14 Jul 43. 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



arms, heavy weapons, and artillery. The rifle companies were supported by the 
Marine heavy weapons and artillery, by the weapons of M Company, by one 
heavy machine-gun section of H Company, and by 37-mm. antitank guns of 
the 164th Infantry. That night M Company fired 1,200 81-mm. mortar rounds. 85 
The line threw back a series of separate infantry assaults. It neither broke nor 
retreated, although some Japanese, including Col. Masajiro Furumiya of the 
2gth Infantry, penetrated to the jungle behind the American lines. 86 By 0700, 
25 October, the Japanese attacks had temporarily ceased. Maruyama was with- 
drawing his battalions to regroup and prepare for another assault. 

The front lines remained quiet throughout the daylight hours of Sunday, 
25 October. Japanese artillery and aircraft were so active, however, that veterans 
of Guadalcanal have named the day "Dugout Sunday." Pistol Pete opened up at 
0800, to fire for three hours at 10-minute intervals. Strong enemy naval forces, 
which were engaged the next day in the Battle of Santa Cruz, were known to 
be approaching, and the early hours of Dugout Sunday had found all Guadal- 
canal aircraft grounded. Fighter Strip No. 1, without matting or natural drain- 
age, had been turned into a sticky bog by the heavy rains. Japanese planes 
bombed and strafed Lunga Point in seven separate attacks. 87 

Some Japanese pilots, resolutely dive bombing a group of planes parked in 
regular formation along the edge of Henderson Field, destroyed a considerable 
number. These conspicuous targets, however, were non-flying hulks from the 
"boneyard" left in the open to deceive the enemy. The operational aircraft had 
been dispersed and camouflaged. 88 

During the morning three Japanese destroyers, having entered Sealark 
Channel from the north, caught two World War I, flush-decked, American 
destroyer-transports off Kukum. Outgunned, the American vessels escaped to 
the east. The Japanese then opened fire on two of the harbor patrol boats from 
Tulagi, set them ablaze, and ventured within range of the 3d Defense Bat- 
talion's 5-inch batteries on the beach. The batteries hit the leading destroyer 
three times, and the enemy ships then pulled out of range. The sun had dried 
the airfield slightly, and three fighters succeeded in taking off to strafe the 
destroyers, which escaped to the north. 

BB Lt Col Samuel Baglien (former ExO, 164th Inf), "The Second Battle for Henderson Field," Infantry 
Journal, May 1944 (LIV, 5), 5. 

86 See extracts from Furumiya's diary in 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Annex I. 

87 3d Def Bn Air Action Rpt, 25 Oct 42. 

88 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, 24-25. 



164 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



As the runways became drier more American planes were able to take to 
the air to challenge the Japanese overhead, until by evening they had shot down 
twenty-two planes in addition to five destroyed by antiaircraft fire. 

Along the perimeter the Americans reorganized their lines. The 1st Bat- 
talion of the 7th Marines and the 3d Battalion of the 164th Infantry, which had 
been intermingled during the night, divided the front between them. The 
Marine battalion, occupying the sector from the Lunga River to a point about 
1,400 yards to the east, covered the south slopes of Bloody Ridge. Hall's bat- 
talion took over the sector in low-lying, rough jungle between the marines' left 
(east) flank and the right flank of the 2d Battalion of the 164th Infantry. The 
3d Battalion, 164th, prepared to defend its sector with three companies in line 
— L on the left, K in the center, and I on the right. The 6o-mm. mortars were 
emplaced behind the lines to put fire directly in front of the barbed wire; 
81-mm. mortars, behind the light mortars, were to hit the edge of the jungle 
beyond the cleared fields of fire, which ranged in depth from 60 to 100 yards. 
Four 37-mm. guns covered the junction of the 2d and 3d Battalions of the 164th 
Infantry, where a narrow trail led north to the Lunga road net. The 164th In- 
fantry regimental reserve, consisting of 175 men of the Service and Antitank 
Companies, bivouacked in the 3d Battalion's old positions. 89 To the west, in 
Sector Five, the 5th Marines swung their line southwestward to close with the 
left flank of the 2d Battalion, 7th Marines. During the day the soldiers and 
marines, besides strengthening their positions, improving fields of fire, and 
cleaning and siting their weapons, hunted down a number of Japanese who 
had penetrated the perimeter during the night. 

Hidden in the jungles south of the perimeter, Maruyama was preparing to 
attack again. Acting on a false report that an American force was approaching 
his right (east) flank, he deployed Shoji's wing on the right to cover his sup- 
posedly threatened flank. The attack against the perimeter was to be delivered 
by two infantry regiments in line — the 16th on the right and the 2gth on the 
left. 60 

After nightfall on Dugout Sunday, Maruyama's forces struck again in the 
same pattern as on the previous night. The 16th and 2gth Infantry Regiments 
attacked along the entire front of the two American battalions which had de- 
feated the 2gth Infantry the night before. Supported by machine-gun fire, 
groups of from 30 to 200 assaulted the perimeter in the darkness. They executed 

69 Baglien, "The Second Battle for Henderson Field," p. 25. 
90 Interrog of Hyakutake, Miyazaki, and Maruyama. 



THE OCTOBER COUNTEROFFENSIVE 



165 



one strong attack against the point of contact of the 2d and 3d Battalions of the 
164th Infantry where the trail led northward. Two enemy heavy weapons com- 
panies covered by riflemen repeatedly drove in toward the trail, but they were 
driven off or killed by canister from the 37-mm. guns and by fire from the 
weapons of the 3d and 2d Battalions of the 164th Infantry. About 250 Japanese 
were killed in their attempt to seize the trail. 91 One company of the division 
reserve went forward to support L Company of the 164th, and one platoon of 
G Company, 164th, moved south to support L Company and E Company, on 
L's left. The 164th regimental reserve was alerted in the event of a break- 
through, but again the lines held. The 16th and 29th Regiments pressed their 
attacks until daylight, but every one was beaten off. As day broke on 26 Octo- 
ber, the shattered Japanese forces again withdrew into the cover of the jungle. 
Hyakutake's main effort had failed. 

Elsewhere during the night of 25-26 October the enemy attacked with 
slightly greater immediate success. Oka's force, which had been observed cross- 
ing Mount Austen's foothills the day before, struck north at the attenuated 
line of the 2d Battalion of the 7th Marines east of Hill 67. The Japanese broke 
through at one point, but before they could consolidate their positions, Maj. 
Odell M. Conoley, a Marine staff officer, leading headquarters personnel, spe- 
cial weapons troops, bandsmen, and one platoon of the 1st Marines, hastily con- 
trived a counterattack and drove the Japanese off the ridge. 92 

The unsuccessful night attacks of 25-26 October marked the end of the 
ground phase of the October counteroffensive. The Japanese forces began a 
general withdrawal about 29 October. 93 There were no more infantry assaults. 94 
American patrols were able to advance 2,500 yards south of the perimeter with- 
out encountering any organized Japanese forces. They found only sniping 
riflemen, small patrols, and bands of stragglers. The defeated enemy forces 
were retreating eastward and westward to Koli Point and to Kokumbona. 

The Americans had won the battle handily. Their employment of their 
weapons had been skillful and effective. The infantrymen, though outnum- 
bered, had stayed at their posts in the face of determined enemy attacks. The 
soldiers of the 164th Infantry had done well in their first action. Colonel Hall's 

91 164th Inf, Rpt Action Against Enemy, pp. 1-2. 

93 USMC, Guadalcanal Campaign, p. 80; 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Annex O (1st Mar Regt Hist), 2. 
* 8 Interrog of Hyakutake, Miyazaki, and Maruyama. 

" L Company, 164th Infantry, fired for 30 minutes at a suspected enemy force in the jungle in front of 
the lines on the night of 27-28 October. See Baglien, "The Second Battle for Henderson Field," p. 28. 



i66 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



battalion had, in the words of General Vandegrift, "arrived in time to prevent 
a serious penetration of the position and by reinforcing the ist Battalion, 7th 
Marines throughout its sector, made possible the repulse of continued enemy 
attacks. The ist Division is proud to have serving with it another unit which 
has stood the test of battle and demonstrated an overwhelming superiority over 
the enemy," 95 

The Japanese counteroffensive, which had been begun with such high 
hopes, was a costly failure. The ist Marine Division conservatively reported that 
some 2,200 Japanese soldiers had been killed. A later Army report estimated 
that the combat strength of the 16th and 29th Regiments had been reduced by 
3,568. By November, effective strength of the 4th Infantry numbered only 403." 
Over 1,500 decaying Japanese bodies lay in front of the ist Battalion, 7th 
Marines, and the 3d Battalion, 164th Infantry. 97 The latter regiment buried 975 
enemy bodies in front of K and L Companies alone. 98 Among the dead Japa- 
nese were General Nasu and Colonels Furumiya and Toshiro Hiroyasu (com- 
manding the 29th and 16 th Regiments, respectively.) By comparison American 
losses had been light. The 164th Infantry reported twenty-six killed, four miss- 
ing, and fifty-two wounded throughout October. 

The bombardment of the Lunga airfields had been by far the most suc- 
cessful phase of the Japanese counteroffensive. However, the Japanese might 
have achieved greater success had the air and naval bombardments been deliv- 
ered simultaneously with the infantry attacks. The infantry assaults, usually 
delivered against battalions by forces in regimental strength^ had failed com- 
pletely. Japanese co-ordination, as exemplified by the operations of Sumiyoshi 
and Maruyama, had been poor, and the assaults had been delivered in piece- 
meal fashion. If Oka's attack had been intended to divert the Americans, it 
came forty-eight hours too late to be effective. The fact that Maruyama was able 
to move his troops inland around Mount Austen in secret was a signal demon- 
stration of the skill and doggedness of the Japanese soldier, but the terrain over 
which the intended envelopment had been executed had prevented the move- 
ment of artillery. The heavy artillery in Kokumbona does not appear to have 
been used in direct support of Maruyama's attacks, Maruyama's night attacks 

B5 ist Mar Div Bull No. 643-42, 29 Oct 42, attached to 164th Inf Opn Rpt, 24-31 Oct 42, in USAFISPA 
G-3 Periodic Rpts, in Org Rec Br, AGO, St. Louis, Mo. 

98 XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, iyth Army Hist, pp. 2, 7. 

67 ist Mar Div Rpt, V, Int Annex N, 10. 

98 164th Inf Rpt Action Against Enemy, p. 2. 



THE OCTOBER COUNTEROFFENSIVE 



167 



were thus made by infantrymen against prepared positions supported by artil- 
lery and heavy weapons. As the circular perimeter line possessed no open flanks, 
the Japanese delivered frontal assaults. The Lunga airfields, though seriously 
threatened, were saved by a combination of Japanese recklessness and American 
skill and bravery. 

The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands 

The naval phase of the October counteroffensive was concluded almost 
anticlimactically by the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands on 26 October. South 
Pacific naval forces had been preparing to meet the attack since early October. 
On 20 October the Joint Chiefs of Staff transferred the submarines of the South- 
west Pacific naval forces to the South Pacific until the completion of the Gua- 
dalcanal campaign," and Admiral Nimitz promised to send more submarines 
from the Pacific Fleet. 100 The Southwest Pacific submarines were ordered to 
attack warships, tankers, transports, and supply ships in the vicinity of Faisi, 
Rabaul, Buka, northern New Georgia, Kavieng, Bougainville Strait, Indis- 
pensable Strait, and Cape Cretin on the Huon Peninsula in New Guinea. 101 On 
24 October the Enterprise and her escorts rendezvoused with the Hornet task 
group northeast of the New Hebrides. The task force thus assembled, com- 
manded by Rear Adm. Thomas C. Kinkaid, included the two carrier groups — 
the Enterprise, South Dakota, one heavy cruiser, one light antiaircraft cruiser, 
and eight destroyers — and the Hornet with two heavy and two light antiair- 
craft cruisers and six destroyers. 

A strong Japanese fleet, consisting of four carriers, four battleships, nine 
cruisers, twenty-eight destroyers, four oilers, and three cargo ships, 102 had mean- 
while been maneuvering off the Santa Cruz Islands in support of the ijth Army. 
At 0110 of 26 October, while the iyth Army forces were attacking Lunga 
Point, a patrolling plane reported to Admiral Kinkaid's force that it had dis- 
covered part of the enemy fleet near the Santa Cruz Islands. Kinkaid moved in 
to attack. The ensuing engagement, a series of aircraft attacks against both 
planes and surface ships, was less decisive than the ground operations on Gua- 

" COMINCH TO CINCPAC, COMSOPAC, COMSOWESPAC, 0736 of 20 Oct 42. SOPAC War Diary. 

100 CINCPAC to COMSOPAC, 2215 of 20 Oct 42. SOPAC War Diary. 

101 COMSOPAC to CTF 42, 0232 of 24 Oct 42. SOPAC War Diary. Cape Cretin, through an apparent 
garble, is given as Cuttin in the message. 

102 USSBS, Campaigns of Pacific War, App. 44, p. 123. 



THE BATTLE OF THE SANTA CRUZ ISLANDS. A Japanese aircraft (above) having 
just made an unsuccessful run on the aircraft carrier Enterprise can be seen diving into heavy 
fire from the U.S.S. South Dakota, Below, a near miss bomb hits the water off the starboard 
bow of the VSS. Hornet, one of several hits which sent the carrier to the bottom during the 
Santa Cruz action 26 October 1942. 



THE OCTOBER COUNTEROFFENSIVE 



169 



dalcanal. The outnumbered American force lost twenty planes to the enemy, 
and fifty-four more from other causes. The Hornet and the destroyer Porter 
were sunk, and the Enterprise, the South Dakota, and the light antiaircraft 
cruiser San Juan and the destroyer Smith suffered damage. All the enemy ships 
remained afloat, but three carriers and two destroyers were damaged. The Japa- 
nese lost 100 planes, a loss which may have limited the amount of air cover 
they were able to provide to their convoys in November. 103 At the conclusion of 
the day's action the Japanese fleet withdrew and returned to Truk, 104 not be- 
cause it had been defeated but because the ijth Army had failed. 105 The Santa 
Cruz engagement proved to be the last action of the Guadalcanal campaign in 
which the Japanese employed aircraft carriers in close support. 

Thus far in the campaign, Allied air and naval forces had fought valiantly, 
but had not yet achieved the result which is a requisite to a successful landing 
on a hostile island — the destruction or effective interdiction of the enemy's sea 
and air potential to prevent him from reinforcing his troops on the island, and 
to prevent him from cutting the attacker's line of communication. This decisive 
result was soon to be gained. 

108 Ibid.; USSBS, Interrogations, II, 462. 
104 Ibid., I, 79. 

10,5 Battle of Santa Cruz, p. 58. 



CHAPTER VII 



Decision at Sea 

On 18 October Admiral Ghormley was relieved and the South Pacific Area 
received a new commander — Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr. 1 Admiral Halsey, 
then fifty-nine years of age, was one of the most experienced officers of the U, S. 
Navy. Graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy in 1904 as a passed midship- 
man, Halsey was commissioned as an ensign in 1906. During World War I he 
commanded destroyers in British waters. He attended the Navy and Army War 
Colleges in 1933 and 1934, and then successfully completed the naval aviator's 
course at Pensacola. 

His career thereafter had been chiefly concerned with aircraft and aircraft 
carriers. From 1935 to 1937 he commanded the carrier Saratoga. After serving 
for a year as commanding officer at Pensacola, he took command, as a rear 
admiral, of Carrier Division 2 (Yorfyown and Enterprise) in 1938. The next 
year he led Carrier Division 1 {Saratoga and Lexington), and in 1940, a vice 
admiral, he led the Aircraft Battle Force of the Pacific Fleet. Halsey had been 
on the high seas with a carrier task force at the time the Japanese struck Pearl 
Harbor on 7 December 1941, and his undamaged task force was fortunately 
available for a series of raids against the Gilbert, Marshall, Wake, and Marcus 
Islands in the spring of 1942. He also commanded the task force which took 
Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle's medium bombers to within striking distance of 
Tokyo in April 1942. Illness had kept him out of the Battle of Midway. But the 
aggressive admiral had now returned to active service, and his audacious spirit 
was to have a dynamic effect upon the South Pacific. 

Although he was unable to visit Guadalcanal until 8 November, Admiral 
Halsey was well aware of the difficulties which faced him. He had at once to 
decide whether Guadalcanal should be evacuated or held. On 20 October, fol- 
lowing the heavy bombardments and the landings of Hyakutake's troops, Gen- 

1 COMSOPAC to all CGs Island Bases SOPAC, CTFs 16 and 17, all CTFs SOPAC, COMSOPAC Admin, 
COMGENSOPAC, 1350 of 18 Oct 42. SOPAC War Diary. Halsey was a vice admiral on 18 October, but was 
promoted to admiral shortly afterward. 




ADMIRAL WILLIAM F. HALSEY photographed during a shipboard conference. 



172 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



eral Vandegrift had reported in person to Admiral Halsey aboard the flagship 
Argonne in Noumea Harbor. Present at the meeting were Lt, Gen. Thomas HL 
Holcomb, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, who was on a tour of inspec- 
tion, General Harmon, Admiral Turner, and Maj. Gen. Alexander M. Patch, 
who commanded the Americal Division. Vandegrift informed Halsey that he 
could hold Guadalcanal if he was given stronger support. The Admiral knew 
that Guadalcanal must be held, and promised the support of all his available 
forces. One of his first orders sent Kinkaid's force to the Santa Cruz Islands 
where it engaged the Japanese on 26 October. 2 

The South Pacific Area was soon to receive additional means by which the 
aggressive spirit could be transformed into action. President Roosevelt and the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff recognized that the situation on Guadalcanal was extremely 
serious. On 21 October Admiral King, after an urgent request from the South 
Pacific for more forces, notified Admiral Nimitz that the Joint Chiefs of Staff 
had approved a much stronger air establishment for the South Pacific, to be 
based there by 1 January 1943. 3 On 24 October President Roosevelt, in a memo- 
randum for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed a desire that the Joint Chiefs 
send every possible weapon to Guadalcanal and North Africa even if addi- 
tional shipments meant reducing commitments elsewhere. 4 In reply, Admiral 
King stated that a considerable force would be diverted, including one battle- 
ship, six cruisers, two destroyers, and twenty-four submarines, plus torpedo 
boats, seventy-five fighter aircraft, forty-one dive and fifteen torpedo bombers. 
Thirty transports had been allocated to the South Pacific for November, and 
twenty additional 7,000-ton ships would be diverted later. 5 

In his reply to the President, General Marshall stated that the situation in 
the South Pacific depended upon the outcome of the battle then in progress for 
Guadalcanal. The ground forces in the South Pacific were sufficient for security 
against the Japanese, he felt, and he pointed out that the effectiveness of ground 
troops depended upon the ability to transport them to and maintain them in 
the combat areas. Total Army air strength in the South Pacific then consisted 
of 46 heavy bombers, 27 medium bombers, and 133 fighters; 23 heavy bombers 
were being flown and 53 fighters shipped from Hawaii to meet the emergency, 

3 William F. Halsey and Julian Bryan, III, Admiral Halsey' s Story (New York, 1947), p. 117. 
8 COMSOPAC to CINCPAC, 1230 of 17 Oct. 42; COMINCH to CINCPAC, 1523 of 21 Oct. 42. SOPAC 
War Diary. 

* Disp, Pres Franklin D Roosevelt to JCS, 24 Oct 42. OPD 381 PTO Sec. Ill (10-24-42). 
5 Memo, COMINCH for Pres Franklin D Roosevelt, 26 Oct 42. OPD 381 PTO Sec. Ill (10-7-42). The 
24 submarines included 12 submarines from the Southwest Pacific Area. 



DECISION AT SEA 



173 



MacArthur had been directed to furnish bomber reinforcements and P-38 re- 
placement parts to the South Pacific. General Marshall had taken the only addi- 
tional measures which, besides the possible diversion of the 25th Division from 
MacArthur's area to the South Pacific, were possible — the temporary diversion 
of three heavy bombardment squadrons from Australia to New Caledonia, and 
the release of P-40^ and P-39S from Hawaii and Christmas Island. 6 

Reinforcements 

Air Power 

In October the Japanese had come perilously close to destroying American 
air strength on Guadalcanal. Despite their utmost efforts the airfield remained 
in American hands and recovered from the heavy blows, although Guadal- 
canal's air strength, impaired by operational losses and Japanese bombardment, 
remained low during the rest of October. Only thirty-four aircraft were fit to 
fly on 16 October, but were reinforced on that date by the arrival of twenty 
F4F's and twelve SBD's. 7 By 26 October, after a series of bombing raids and 
shellings, there were but twenty-nine operational aircraft at Henderson Field — 
twelve F4F\ eleven SBD's, three P-400's, and three P-39's. 8 

By the end of November, with the lessening of Japanese attacks against 
the Lunga area and the increase of Allied strength in the South Pacific, the 
Guadalcanal air force had increased in size although as late as 10 November 
the shortage of fuel prevented heavy bombers from using Henderson Field. 
General MacArthur on 14 November promised to send eight P-38's to the South 
Pacific. 

By the middle of November a total of 1,748 men in the aviation units were 
operating at the Lunga airfields — 1,261 of Marine Air Group 14; 294 of Marine 
Air Group 142; 33 naval pilots; 144 of the 347th (Army) Fighter Group, and 
16 of the 37th (Army) Fighter Squadron. 9 By 21 November the entire 5th 
(Army) Heavy Bombardment Group, which like the nth had participated in 
the Battle of Midway, had reached the South Pacific to operate from Espiritu 
Santo. 10 P-38's had reached Guadalcanal to be based there permanently, and 

' Memo, WDCSA for Pres Franklin D Roosevelt, 26 Oct 42. OPD 381 PTO Sec. Ill (10-7-42). 
T 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Avn Annex Q, 3. 

8 CG 1st Mar Div to COMSOPAC, 2311 of 25 Oct 42. SOPAC War Diary. 

9 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Personnel Annex W, 2. 

10 5th Bomb Gp (H) Hist, p. 7. AF Hist Sec Archives. 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



B-17's were using the field regularly although the fuel shortage still limited 
operations. 11 On 24 November 94 aircraft on Guadalcanal were operational, 
including 15 P-39S, 1 P-40, 8 B-i^s, 11 P-^'s, 9 TBF's, 6 New Zealand Hud- 
sons, 29 F4F's, and 15 SBD's, and by 30 November additional reinforcements 
had increased the total to 188 planes of all types. 12 
Aola Bay 

By November plans for building an additional airfield on Guadalcanal 
were ready to be put into effect. Prior to Admiral Halsey's assumption of com- 
mand, the 1st Battalion of the 147th Infantry, a separate regiment, had sailed 
from Tongatabu with the mission of occupying Ndeni. General Harmon had 
not changed his conviction that the occupation of Ndeni would be a needless 
waste of effort. He presented his opinions to Halsey, who, after conferring with 
his subordinates, accepted Harmon's views. On 20 October he directed the 147th 
Infantry to Guadalcanal. 13 The Ndeni operation was never carried out. 

Halsey decided to send the 147th Infantry to Guadalcanal to cover the con- 
struction of an air strip at a point far enough east of the Lunga to give fighter 
planes at Lunga Point enough time to rise to the attack if the Japanese attacked 
the eastern field. Aola Bay, lying about thirty-three miles east-southeast of 
Lunga Point, was selected by Admiral Turner as the landing and airfield site. 
The Aola Bay landing force, as finally constituted, was under command of 
Col. W. B. Tuttle and included 1,700 men of the 1st Battalion, 147th Infantry; 
two companies of the 2d (Marine) Raider Battalion; a detachment of the 5th 
Defense Battalion; Provisional Battery K of the 246th Field Artillery Battalion 
of the Americal Division, which was equipped with British 25-pounders; and 
500 naval construction troops. 14 

While the practicality of taking Ndeni was being considered, Halsey's 
headquarters had completed plans for moving strong reinforcements to Lunga 
Point. On 29 October Admiral Turner informed General Vandegrift that his 
requests for more ammunition, materiel, and support were being seriously con- 
sidered. The admiral planned to have two ships land stores, ammunition, and 
two batteries of 155-mm. guns on 2 November. Provision for the movement of 
the 8th Marines of the 2d Marine Division to Guadalcanal was being given the 

11 COMAIRSOPAC to COMSOPAC, 0207 of 21 Nov. 42. SOP AC War Diary. 

12 CG 1st Mar Div to COMSOPAC, 2156 of 23 Nov 42; 2328 of 29 Nov 42. SOPAC War Diary. 

1S Army in the South Pacific, p. 3. See also Admiral Halsey's Story, p. 119, which contains some minor 
errors. 

14 COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 30 Oct 42. A shortage of artillery pieces had led to the 
equipping of K Battery with British field howitzers temporarily. 



DECISION AT SEA 



175 



highest priority, and that regiment was to land on 3 November. Turner ex- 
pressed the desire, somewhat gratuitously, that Vandegrift take the offensive 
after the arrival of the 8th Marines. Another Army regiment and the 1st 
(Marine) Aviation Engineer Battalion, Turner announced, were to arrive 
about 10 November, and the 2d Raider Battalion might possibly land at Beau- 
fort Bay on the south coast about the same time. 15 A task force commanded by 
Rear Adm. Daniel J. Callaghan was constituted to transport the 8th Marines 
and the Aola Force to Guadalcanal. 

The Aola Force, carried on three transports and two destroyer-transports, 
landed unopposed at Aola Bay on 4 November. It established a 600-yard-long 
beachhead a short distance east of the Aola River. When the beachhead had 
been established, command of Colonel Tuttle's landing force passed from Ad- 
miral Callaghan to General Vandegrift. The transports unloaded continuously 
until 0200, 6 November, and then withdrew. Admiral Halsey directed the 
raider companies to remain at Aola Bay, instead of leaving with the transports 
as originally planned. 16 

The troops established a perimeter defense, and on 29 November four 
transports landed the 3d Battalion of the 147th Infantry, additional elements of 
the 246th Field Artillery Battalion, part of the 9th (Marine) Defense Battalion, 
and more Seabees. 

The Seabees had begun work on an airfield immediately after the landing 
on 4 November, but the entire area proved to be unsatisfactory. The earth was 
swampy, and tree stumps with deep, tangled roots slowed the process of clear- 
ing the ground. On 22 November Vandegrift, who from the first had opposed 
the selection of Aola Bay, recommended to Turner that the area be abandoned. 17 
Admiral Fitch, the commander of South Pacific land-based aircraft, also dis- 
approved of the Aola Bay site; Halsey assented to its abandonment, and the Aola 
Force, less the 2d Raider Battalion, was later removed to Volinavua at Koli Point 
to build an airfield on a grassy plain. 18 The movement to Koli Point was com- 
pleted by 3 December, 19 and there the force was joined by the 18th Naval Con- 
struction Battalion and the rest of the 9th Defense Battalion. 

16 COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC to rad Guadalcanal, 1025 of 29 Oct 42. SOPAC War Diary, 
16 CTF 62 to McKean, Manley, 0435 of 29 Oct 42; CTF 62 to CTG 65.5, 0235 of 4 Nov. 42. SOPAC 
War Diary. 

1T CG 1st Mar Div to CTF 62, 0555 of 22 Nov. 42. SOPAC War Diary. 
18 1 st Mar Div Rpt, V, Int Annex N, 16. 

19 Rpt, G-3 USAHSPA to COMGENSOPAC, period 28 Nov-15 Dec 42, 16 Dec 42, in USAF1SPA 
G-3 Worksheet File, 28 Nov-15 Dec 42, in Org Rcc Br AGO. 
G-3 Worksheet File, 28 Nov-15 Dec 42, in Org Rec Br AGO. 




THE SITE FOR ANOTHER AIRFIELD was first planned to be at Aala Bay (above), but 
terrain conditions forced a move westward to the flat plain at Koli Point, where the lower 
picture was ta^en some time after the battle. The completed air base there can be seen at left, 
with numerous U.S. Navy craft lying offshore. 




DECISION AT SEA 



177 



Reinforcement of the Lunga Garrison, 2-4 November 

While the initial landings at Aola Bay were being effected on 4 November, 
more American troops and weapons were strengthening Lunga Point. The 
Alchiba and the Fuller landed stores and ammunition, together with one Army 
and one Marine Corps 155-mm. gun battery at Lunga Point on 2 November. 
These batteries — F Battery of the 244th Coast Artillery Battalion, and another 
battery of the 5th Defense Battalion — brought in the heaviest American artil- 
lery which had been sent to Guadalcanal up to that time, the first suitable for 
effective counterbattery fire. 20 

After the landing of a Japanese force east of Koli Point on the night of 2-3 
November, Vandegrift asked Halsey to hurry the arrival of the 8th Marines. 
Callaghan's task force, which had been delayed by the proximity of enemy 
forces, sailed into Sealark Channel on 4 November to debark the reinforced 8th 
Marines, including the 75-mm. pack howitzers of the 1st Battalion, 10th 
Marines, and the Aola Force as shown above. The regular noon Japanese air 
attack forced the transports to disperse, and the Lunga Point section of Cal- 
laghan's task force withdrew to the southeast for the night. It returned the next 
morning to complete the unloading before sailing for Noumea. 21 



The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal 

Japanese Plans 

Following their defeat in the night battles of 23-26 October, the Japanese 
began preparing for a second major counteroffensive. Staff representatives from 
the Combined Fleet hurried to Guadalcanal by destroyer to help complete the 
plans. On 26 October General Hyakutake decided to send the 38th Division, 
commanded by Lt. Gen. Tadayoshi Sano, and its heavy equipment from Rabaul 
to Guadalcanal on transports instead of aboard the Tokyo Express. Admiral 
Isoroku Yamamoto, commanding the Combined Fleet, approved of these 
plans. 22 

The Japanese organized four naval task forces for the November operation. 
Two bombardment forces were to neutralize Henderson Field ; a third was to 

20 The elements of the 5th Defense Battalion which had been landed from time to time were designated 
as the 14th Defense Battalion on 15 January 1943. Turner's reports refer to the battery which landed on 2 
November 1942 as A Battery, 14th Defense Battalion. 

21 CTF 65 to COMSOPAC, 0330 of 4 Nov 42; CTF 65 to CTF's 63, 64, 62, 16, COMSOPAC, 1747 of 
5 Nov. 42. SOPAC War Diary. 

B2 USSBS, Interrogations, II, 468-469. 



STRATEGIC AIR ACTIONS during October were carried out against Japanese positions 
on Gizo Island (above), where one of a flight of B-iy's is seen leaving the target after the 
bombing, and against enemy shipping ( below ) lying off Buin, Bougainville Island. A salvo 
of bombs has bracketed a small Japanese freighter as another ship ( right) maneuvers to escape 
the attach Light areas near top right evidence an earlier, less successful strife* White spots 
are enemy machine gun tracers. 




DECISION AT SEA 



179 



transport the 38th Division and heavy equipment from Rabaul to Guadalcanal, 
while a fourth force from the Combined Fleet gave general support. 

The iyth Army had first decided to land the 38th Division at Koli Point, 
whereupon the entire iyth Army was to attack the Lunga area from the east and 
west. But Imperial General Headquarters, disapproving of the dispersion of 
forces, directed that the 38th Division deliver its attack from the Matanikau 
area, where it could receive the maximum support from lyth Army artillery. 
The lyth Army, however, did land a small force at Koli Point in early Novem- 
ber to deliver supplies to some of Shoji's troops who had retreated there after 
the October disaster. Orders directing these forces to build an airfield on the 
flat plain south of Koli Point were also issued. 23 A part of the 230th Infantry 
of the 38th Division had already landed on Guadalcanal in October and on 2-3 
November, and the Tokyo Express landed elements of the 228th Infantry along 
the beaches from Kokumbona to Cape Esperance between 28 October and 8 
November. 24 

Japanese naval units assembled in the harbors between Buin and Rabaul 
during the first days of November. By 12 November Allied reconnaissance 
planes reported that two aircraft carriers, four battleships, five heavy cruisers, 
and thirty destroyers, besides transports and cargo ships, had been assembled. 
There were sixty vessels in the Buin-Faisi-Tonolei anchorages alone. 25 But 
there was to be one vital difference between the October and November coun- 
teroff ensives. The Japanese, who had previously been using their aircraft carriers 
with some success, did not commit them to action in November. 
American Plans 

American naval forces, though still inferior in number to those of the 
Japanese, were again to prove their effectiveness. Twenty-four submarines had 
been patrolling the Tokyo Express routes, and had destroyed or damaged a 
number of Japanese ships. Besides the submarines, the naval forces under Hal- 
sey's command included the aircraft carrier Enterprise, two battleships, three 
heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, one light antiaircraft cruiser, twenty-two de- 
stroyers, and seven transports and cargo ships, organized into two task forces. 
Because the lack of gasoline at Henderson Field was limiting the operations of 

88 iyth Army Opns, I, USSBS, Interrogations, II, 470, states that the plan to land the 38th Division at 
Koli Point was cancelled when the Americans gained control of the point in the first days of November. 
84 Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab A. 

35 For a more complete account of naval action see ONI, USN, Combat Narratives: Solomon Islands 
Campaign, VI, The Battle of Guadalcanal, 11-15 November 1942 (Washington, 1944). 



i8o 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



B-I7's, Admiral Halsey requested the Southwest Pacific Air Forces to bomb 
shipping around Buin, Tonolei, and Faisi between n and 14 November, as 
well as to reconnoiter the approaches to Guadalcanal 26 Beginning on 10 No- 
vember, South Pacific land-based aircraft, including those at Henderson Field, 
were to cover the northern and western approaches and to protect the Lunga 
area. The plans for the land-based aircraft of the South Pacific did not assign 
to them new missions, but restated their continuing missions in specific terms. 

On Guadalcanal the situation was more hopeful than it had been in Octo- 
ber. Pistol Pete could no longer shell the airfields with impunity. The arrival on 
2 November of the 155-mm. guns of F Battery, 244th Coast Artillery Battalion, 
and the battery of the 5th Defense Battalion had provided effective counter- 
battery artillery. 27 Less than four hours after it had begun debarkation at Lunga 
Point, F Battery of the 244th was in action against Pistol Pete. 28 Troop strength 
had increased with the addition of the 8th Marines on 4 November, and still 
more reinforcements were expected soon. 

The addition of more New Zealand troops and of the first elements of the 
43d (U. S.) Division to the South Pacific force had made it possible to relieve 
the Americal Division of its mission of defending New Caledonia. The com- 
plete division was to be committed to Guadalcanal, where one of its regiments, 
the 164th Infantry, was already engaged. 
Reinforcement by the i82d Infantry 

The next Americal Division unit to be shipped to Guadalcanal was the 
i82d Regimental Combat Team, less the 3d Battalion which was still in the 
New Hebrides. The movement of this unit to Guadalcanal by Turner's task 
force was to be a larger operation than the dispatch of the Aola Bay Force and 
the 8th Marines. 

One of the two South Pacific naval task forces, under command of Admiral 
Turner, was charged with the dual responsibility of defending Guadalcanal 
and of transporting troops and supplies to the island. Admiral Kinkaid's carrier 
task force at Noumea was available to support Turner's force. These forces, 
though limited in numbers, had to stop the Japanese unless the U. S. Navy was 
to be driven out of the Solomons. 29 

26 ibid., p. 4. 

27 ist Mar Div Rpt, V, Arty Annex R; ist Mar Div Rpt, V, 21, implies that 155-mm. guns had arrived by 
23 October, which is not correct. 

28 1 st Mar Div Rpt, V, Arty Annex R. 
28 Battle of Guadalcanal, p. 4. 



DECISION AT SEA 



181 



Turner's task force was organized into three groups. Three transports, one 
cruiser, and four destroyers under Admiral Scott constituted one group. Scott's 
ships were to carry marines, ammunition, and rations from Espiritu Santo to 
Guadalcanal. Admiral Callaghan commanded the second group of five cruisers 
and ten destroyers which were to operate out of Espiritu Santo and cover the 
movement of the third group from Noumea to Guadalcanal. Admiral Turner 
assumed direct command of the third group, consisting of four transports which 
were to transfer the i82d Regimental Combat Team (less the 3d Battalion), 
Marine replacements, naval personnel, and ammunition from Noumea to Gua- 
dalcanal. 

Admiral Kinkaid's force at Noumea, consisting of the carrier Enterprise, 
two battleships, two cruisers, and eight destroyers, was to support Turner's 
force. In addition all aircraft in the South Pacific were to cover the movement 
of Turner's ships and to strike at any approaching Japanese vessels. Turner 
expected that a Japanese invasion fleet would soon be approaching Guadal- 
canal. He planned to land the i82d Infantry at Lunga Point and move the trans- 
ports out of danger before the enemy could arrive. The ships under his direct 
command sailed from Noumea at 1500, 8 November. The next day Scott's 
group left Espiritu Santo; Callaghan's warships followed on 10 November. 
Callaghan's and Turner's groups rendezvoused off San Cristobal the next morn- 
ing. 

Scott's group arrived off Guadalcanal at 0530 on n November. The Zeilin, 
Libra, and Betelgeuse began unloading but were interrupted twice during the 
day by enemy bombers which damaged all three ships. At 1800 the group with- 
drew to Indispensable Strait. Damage to the Zeilin was found to be serious, and 
with one destroyer as escort she returned to Espiritu Santo. Scott's warships, at 
2200, joined Callaghan's group, which had been preceding the advance of Tur- 
ner's transports. The Libra and Betelgeuse later joined Turner's group. The war- 
ships, under Callaghan's command, then swept the waters around Savo Island, 
and remained in Sealark Channel for the rest of the night of 11-12 November. 

The transports anchored off Lunga Point at 0530, 12 November. Covered by 
the warships, they began discharging troops and cargo. A Japanese shore bat- 
tery in the vicinity of Kokumbona opened fire on the Betelgeuse and Libra at 
0718 but missed; it ceased firing when one cruiser, two destroyers, and counter- 
battery artillery on shore replied. About twenty-five enemy torpedo bombers 
attacked in the afternoon, and forced the ships to cease unloading and get 
under way. The cruiser San Francisco, which was Callaghan's flagship, and the 




LANDING OF THE 182D REGIMENTAL COMBAT TEAM 12 NOVEMBER was 
carried out smoothly during the morning as troops hauled their equipment ashore (above). 
During the afternoon enemy air attacks temporarily interrupted operations. The cruiser San 
Francisco was hit (under smo^e in distance, lower photo), but the transport shown and 
others were undamaged. 




DECISION AT SEA 



l8 3 



destroyer Buchanan were damaged but the transports were not hit, and all but 
one bomber were shot down. The transports re-anchored at 1525, having been 
forced to halt unloading for two hours. 

At 1035 on the same morning American planes patrolling north of Malaita 
sighted a Japanese force, including two battleships, sailing south toward Gua- 
dalcanal. A convoy of transports carrying the 38th Division troops, replace- 
ments, and naval troops followed farther to the north. By late afternoon Ad- 
miral Turner had concluded that 90 percent of the supplies carried by the ships 
under his direct command could be unloaded that day, but that several more 
days would be required to unload the Betelgeuse and Libra. To avoid destruc- 
tion by the enemy battleships, he decided to withdraw all the cargo ships and 
transports. The warships were to remain to engage the approaching enemy. 

The cargo ships and transports, escorted by destroyers, withdrew at 1815, 
12 November. 30 Callaghan's and Scott's warships preceded them to Indispens- 
able Strait, then reversed their course and returned to protect Guadalcanal. The 
McCawley and the President ]ac\son had been completely unloaded; 80 percent 
of the President Adams' cargo had been landed, 50 percent of the Crescent 
City's, 40 percent of the Betelgeuse s, and 20 percent of the Libra's. All the 
troops, numbering about 6,000 men, had debarked. 31 The forces which had been 
landed by Scott's group consisted of the rst (Marine) Aviation Engineer Bat- 
talion, ground crews of the 1st Marine Air Wing, and marine replacements. 
Turner's ships had landed 1,300 marine replacements, 372 naval personnel, 
L Battery, nth Marines (155-mm. howitzers), some 164th Infantry casuals, and 
the 182nd Infantry Regimental Combat Team. The combat team was made up 
of the 1st and 2d Battalions, i82d Infantry; the 245th Field Artillery Battalion 
(105-mm. howitzers), plus engineer, medical, quartermaster, and ordnance 
personnel — 3,358 men. 32 
Cruisers Versus Battleships, 12-13 November 

The Japanese force which had been sighted consisted of the battleships 
Hiei and Kirishima, one light cruiser, and fifteen destroyers. 33 This force had 
orders to enter Sealark Channel and neutralize the airfields on Guadalcanal by 

80 COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC, Rpt Opns TF 67 and TF 62.4, Reinf Guadalcanal 8-15 Nov 42 and Sum- 
mary Third Battle Savo, Ser 00469, 3 Dec 42. This report is filed in the Office of Naval Records and Library 
31 CTF 67 to COMSOPAC, 0140 of 13 Nov 42. SOPAC War Diary. 

83 TF 6814 and Amer Div, Hist Data, Inc 8, pp. 1-2. The bulk of America! Division records when cdn- 
sulted were in HRS DRB AGO. 

USSBS, Campaigns of Pacific War, App. 46, p. 127; Interrogations , II, 469, lists 2 battleships and 13 
destroyers. 



1 84 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



bombardment. Once enough aircraft and supplies had been destroyed, and the 
airfield pitted, Japanese troops could be transported to Guadalcanal in safety. 34 
The fact that the battleships carried high explosive ammunition for bombard- 
ing the airfield instead of armor-piercing shells reduced the margin of superi- 
ority of their 14-inch guns in the ensuing battle, for the battleships' shells did 
not always penetrate the cruisers' armor plate. This was fortunate, for to with- 
stand the enemy force Admiral Callaghan had only two 8-inch gun cruisers, 
one 6-inch gun cruiser, two light antiaircraft cruisers, and eight destroyers. 

Callaghan led his light forces toward Savo after dark to engage the battle- 
ships. At 0124 on 13 November Helenas radar located Japanese ships 27,000 
yards away, between Savo and Cape Esperance. A warning was immediately 
transmitted to the flagship San Francisco, but the cruiser's search radar was 
inadequate. As a result Admiral Callaghan, like Admiral Scott at Cape Esper- 
ance one month earlier, did not know the exact location of either his own or the 
enemy ships. 

The American destroyers closed to short range to fire torpedoes. The vans 
of the opposing forces intermingled, and the American column penetrated 
the Japanese formation. The Japanese illuminated the American cruisers, then 
opened fire at 0148. The outnumbered Americans replied, firing to port and 
starboard. The American column became disorganized as destroyers man- 
euvered to fire torpedoes, and both cruisers and destroyers swerved off their 
courses to avoid collisions. The engagement became a melee in which the des- 
perate American ships engaged the enemy individually. In the confusion both 
sides occasionally fired on their own vessels. As far as they could, the American 
ships concentrated their fire on the battleship Hid. 

Admiral Scott, aboard the Atlanta, was killed by fire from a cruiser. Later 
a salvo from the Hid struck the San Francisco and killed, among others, Ad- 
miral Callaghan, and mortally wounded her commanding officer, Capt. Cassin 
Young. The San Francisco continued to engage the Hid as long as her main 
battery would bear. The Hid fired several salvos, then ceased. The San Fran- 
cisco, having received fifteen major hits from heavy guns, withdrew. The 
Atlanta caught fire, and several American destroyers blew up, but about 0300 
the Japanese abandoned their attempt to break through the tenacious American 
force, and retired northward. Two Japanese destroyers had been sunk, and four 
were damaged. 

34 ibid., 470. 



DECISION AT SEA 



185 



The gallantry of the light American forces in this desperate action had saved 
Henderson Field from a battleship bombardment, but the cost was heavy. Of 
the thirteen American ships, twelve had been either sunk or damaged. The 
antiaircraft cruisers Atlanta and Juneau, and the destroyers Barton, C us king, 
Laffey, and Monssen sank in the channel. The heavy cruisers San Francisco and 
Portland and the destroyers Aaron Ward, O'Bannon, and Sterrett, which all had 
suffered serious damage, 35 retired with the two other surviving ships toward 
Espiritu Santo during the morning of 13 November. 

The battleship Kirishima had escaped, but at daylight on 13 November 
American air forces located the battleship Hiei near Savo. Crippled and on fire, 
she was cruising slowly in circles. The Hiei, the principal American target, had 
been struck eighty-five times in the battle, and was out of control. Planes from 
Henderson Field attacked her steadily all day, and on the night of 14 November 
she was scuttled by her crew. 
Bombing the Japanese Transports, 14 Not/ember 

Meanwhile Admiral Kinkaid had led his carrier task force from Noumea 
toward Guadalcanal. At daylight on 14 November search planes from the En- 
terprise sighted a group of Japanese cruisers near New Georgia. These ships 
belonged to a second Japanese force which, consisting of three heavy and two 
light cruisers and four destroyers from the Outer South Seas Supporting Unit 
of the 8th Fleet, had entered Sealark Channel early on the morning of 14 Novem- 
ber. When American motor torpedo boats sortied from Tulagi, the Japanese 
retired without having inflicted much damage to Henderson Field. Later, when 
the search planes found this force, aircraft from Guadalcanal and from the car- 
rier attacked it and sank one heavy cruiser and damaged one heavy and one 
light cruiser and a destroyer. 

After these attacks the planes from the Enterprise flew to Guadalcanal to 
operate temporarily from Henderson Field. This permitted the Enterprise, the 
only remaining carrier in the South Pacific, to withdraw to the south out of 
range of hostile aircraft* 36 

Disregarding the fact that the American airfields on Guadalcanal were still 
in operation, the Japanese determined to bring the troop convoy to Guadal- 
canal. On 14 November it left the waters near northern New Georgia, where it 
had been standing by since 13 November, to sail southward down the Slot. Con- 

3B USSBS, Campaigns of Pacific War, App. 46, p. 127. Campaigns of Pacific War erroneously suites that 
the Helena sank on her withdrawal to the south. 
aa Ibid., p. 126. 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



sisting of eleven transports and cargo ships and twelve escorting destroyers, 37 
this convoy was the largest the Japanese had yet employed in the Solomons. The 
ships carried about 10,000 troops of the iiqth and 130th Regiments of the 38th 
Division, artillerymen, engineers, replacement units, a naval force of between 
1,000 and 3,500 men, weapons, and 10,000 tons of supplies. 88 The Japanese had 
not committed aircraft carriers to close support of operations, and the convoy's 
air cover was weak. 

A Southwest Pacific patrol plane, lending support to the South Pacific, dis- 
covered the convoy at 0830, 14 November, about 150 miles from Guadalcanal. 
Guadalcanal aircraft and the Enterprise air group made ready to attack with 
torpedoes, bombs, and machine guns. Ground crews servicing the planes rolled 
bombs across the muddy runways, lifted them into the bays, and fuelled the 
planes entirely by hand. The planes took off and struck the transports contin- 
uously throughout the day with outstanding success. They hit nine transports. 
Seven sank at sea, and the four remaining afloat sailed on toward Guadalcanal 
under cover of darkness. 
Night Battleship Action, 14-15 November 

Strengthened and reorganized, the heavy bombardment force which had 
fought the American cruisers on the night of 12-13 November turned back 
toward Guadalcanal to cover the approach of the transports. It consisted of the 
battleship Kirishima, two heavy and two light cruisers, and nine destroyers. To 
combat this force and to attack any surviving transports, Admiral Halsey sent 
the battleships Washington and South Dakota and four destroyers from Kin- 
kaid's force to the north. Under the command of Rear Adm. Willis A. Lee, Jr., 
the two battleships and four destroyers passed the southeastern tip of Guadal- 
canal about noon on 14 November. Shortly before midnight, they entered the 
channel. As the Washington neared Savo in the darkness at 0001, 15 November, 
her radar located an enemy ship. The Washington opened fire at 0016, at a range 
of 18,500 yards, and the South Dakota and the destroyers entered the action im- 
mediately thereafter. The Japanese fought back vigorously, but by 0142 the long- 
range gun fight in the narrow waters had ended. It was one of the few engage- 
ments between battleships of the entire war. The Japanese retired northward, 
having again failed to hit the airfields. The badly damaged Kirishima was 

87 US SB S, Interrogations, II, 469. 

58 Ibid.; Campaigns of Pacific War, p. 125, and App. 46, p. 128; Allied Campaign Against Rabaul, p. 108; 
i-jth Army Opns I; 3d Battalion, 229th Infantry, landed in New Guinea at this time. ATTS, SWPA, Enemy 
Pub No. 29: Orders of Giruwa Def Area, p. 10. 




JAPANESE TRANSPORTS BEACHED AND BURNING 14 NOVEMBER. Three of 
the four enemy transports which succeeded in reaching Guadalcanal. The Kinugawa Mam* 
seen still burning just east oj the Bonegi River mouth at Tassafaronga Point. In the distance 
near Bunina Point is a third hul{, shown in the lower photo with wrecked Japanese landing 
barge in the foreground. 



i88 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



scuttled by her crew; one Japanese destroyer sank. Three of the American de- 
stroyers sank, and the South Dakota and the other destroyer suffered damage. 39 
When day broke on 15 November the Americans saw, lying at Tassaf aronga 
in plain view, the four surviving transports of the force which had been hit the 
day before. The transports had no air cover. Three were beached and unloading, 
while the fourth was slowly pulling northward toward Doma Reef. F Battery 
of the 244th Coast Artillery Battalion had moved two of its guns from their field 
artillery positions on the west bank of the Lunga to the beach. These guns 
opened fire at 0500 and hit one beached transport 19,500 yards away; the ship 
began to burn. 40 The 3d Defense Battalion's 5-inch batteries opened fire forty- 
five minutes later on a second ship 15,800 yards away and hit her repeatedly. 
The beached target burned and listed to port. 41 The destroyer Meade sailed over 
from Tulagi to shell both the ships and the landing areas, 42 while aircraft from 
Henderson Field and bombers from Espiritu Santo attacked the remaining ships. 
By noon all four had been turned into burning, useless hulks which were 
abandoned to rust in the shallow water. The planes then turned their attention 
to the Japanese supplies which had been landed, and started tremendous fires 
among the piles of materiel. One blaze was 1,000 yards long. 43 
Cost and Results 

Of the ill-fated convoy's 10,000 or more troops, about 4,000 had landed safely 
on Guadalcanal, 44 but without sufficient supplies and rations. Only five tons of 
the 10,000 tons of supplies aboard the ships were landed safely. 45 Of the rest of 
the troops, some had drowned at sea, but a large number were rescued by the 
Japanese. 46 

The destruction of the convoy brought the November counteroffensive to 
a quick end. For the Japanese the failure had been expensive. Besides the troops 
and supplies lost at sea, they had lost two battleships, one heavy cruiser, and 
three destroyers sunk. Equally serious had been the destruction of the eleven 
ships in the convoy, a total loss of 77,609 shipping tons. 47 Two heavy cruisers, 

39 Campaigns of Pacific War, A pp. 46, p. 129. 

40 259th (formerly 244th) Sep CA Bn (HD) Hist, 1 Jan 42-30 Jun 42 (np), in HRS DRB AGO. 

41 3d Def Bn, 5-inch Rpt, p. 4. 
42 COMAMPIIlBFORSOPAC War Diary, 15 Nov 42. 
43 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, 33. 

** Allied Campaign Against Rabaul, p. 93. 
"lf>id.,p. 108. 

46 USAFISPA, Japanese Campaign in the Guadalcanal Area, pp. 29-30, estimates that 7,700 troops had 
been aboard, of whom 3,000 drowned, 3,000 landed on Guadalcanal, and 1,700 were rescued. 

47 USSBS, Interrogations, II, 470. 



DECISION AT SEA 1 89 

one light cruiser, and six destroyers had been damaged. The U* S. Navy had lost 
one light cruiser, two light antiaircraft cruisers, and seven destroyers sunk, and 
one battleship, two heavy cruisers, and four destroyers damaged. 

This was the last major effort by the Japanese Army and Navy to recapture 
the Lunga area by a co-ordinated attack. The November battle had made the 
task of reinforcing Guadalcanal much less dangerous. The movement of the 
i82d Infantry was the last shipment of troops to Guadalcanal in the face of enemy 
forces. Thereafter American troops were to be landed on Guadalcanal fairly 
regularly, and although enemy air attacks continued, and the Alchiba was tor- 
pedoed by a submarine on 28 November, the danger of attack by enemy warships 
lessened. The Lunga area was now securely held, for by the end of November 
Vandegrift's force totaled 39,416 men* 48 

The November battle had been the most decisive engagement of the Guadal- 
canal campaign. It had almost "sealed off" the Japanese on the Guadalcanal 
battlefields from their rear bases* After November, the most important factor of 
the campaign was to be the long hard ground fighting on the island itself. 

48 1 st Mar Div Rpt, V, Personnel Annex W, 3. 



CHAPTER VIII 

Advances Toward Kokumbona 



In November, General Vandegrift had been able to resume the attempt to 
extend the western line beyond Kokumbona. The ifth Army had been decisive- 
ly defeated in October, and was unable to mount another counteroffensive until 
it could receive strong reinforcements. More American troops and planes were 
soon to be sent to Guadalcanal, and the offensive could be resumed with good 
prospects of ultimate success. 

Operations i-ii November 

Kokumbona Offensive, 1-4 November 

The first offensive move was begun before the mid-November naval battle. 
The objectives were about the same as those of the Marine offensive which 
opened on 7 October — first, the trail junction and landing beaches at Kokum- 
bona, over 8,000 yards west of the Matanikau, and second, the Poha River, about 
2,600 yards beyond Kokumbona. Once the Poha River line had been gained, the 
Lunga airfields would be safe from enemy artillery fire. 

The infantry forces selected for the attack were the 5th Marines, the 2d 
Marines (less the 3d Battalion), and the Whaling Group, which now consisted 
of the Scout-Sniper Detachment and the 3d Battalion, 7th Marines. Supporting 
the offensive were to be the nth Marines and attached Army artillery battalions, 
aircraft, engineers, and a boat detachment from the Kukum naval base. 

The infantry forces were to attack west in column of regiments on a 1,500- 
yard front from the Matanikau River, the line of departure. The 5th Marines, 
closely followed by the 2d Marines in reserve, would make the assault. The 
Whaling Group would move out along the high grassy ridges on the left (south) 
of the assault forces to protect the left flank. Colonel Edson was to command the 
attacking force. The time for the attack was set for 0630, 1 November. 

Full use was to be made of supporting artillery and mortar fire. The nth 
Marines and attached battalions were to mass fire first in front of the 5th 




OPENING THE KOKUMBONA OFFENSIVE. CoL Uerritt A. Edson (seated at des\ t 
above) discusses plans for the i November attacks beyond the Matani^au Riper. Part of the 
plan was the construction of fuel-drum ponton footbridges across the stream (below), where 
Marines are seen crossing en route to the front lines. 




192 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Marines. Artillery and mortar fire were to be placed on each objective and on 
each ravine and stream approached by the infantry. At least two battalions of 
artillery were to fire at targets as far west as the Poha, displacing their howitzers 
forward as the need arose. Aircraft were to strike enemy troop concentrations 
and artillery positions. Spotting planes for the division artillery would be fur- 
nished by the 1st Marine Air Wing. 

On the night before the assault, the 1st Engineer Battalion was to construct 
footbridges across the Matanikau, and an additional bridge suitable for vehicles 
on the day of the attack. The naval boat detachment was to provide boats for 
amphibious supply and evacuation as the troops advanced up the coast. 1 

In preparation for the attack, the 1st and 2d Battalions of the 2d Marines 
were brought to Guadalcanal from TulagL The 3d Battalion, which had served 
as division mobile reserve for six weeks, was sent to Tulagi to rest. The 5th 
Marines moved to the forward Matanikau position to relieve the 2d Battalion, 
7th Marines, and the 3d Battalion, 1st Marines; responsibility for the 5th 
Marines' old sector in the perimeter defense was assigned to the 2d Battalion of 
the 7th Marines. Detachments from the heavy weapons companies of the 3d Bat- 
talion, rst Marines, and from the 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, remained in position 
along the Matanikau to cover the attacking forces as they made the crossing on 
1 November. The 2d Marines (less the 3d Battalion) meanwhile moved into 
bivouac east of the Matanikau River. 

The engineers salvaged and prepared material for the bridges between 25 
and 31 October. On the afternoon of 31 October they hauled the material to the 
east bank of the river. Early on the morning of 1 November E Company of the 
5th Marines crossed the river to outpost the west bank in order to cover the 
troops constructing the bridges. Between 0100 and 0600, 1 November, A, C, and 
D Companies of the 1st Engineer Battalion laid three footbridges over the river. 
Each bridge had a 40-inch-wide treadway which was supported by 2-by~4-inch 
stringers lashed to a light framework which in turn was lashed to floating fuel 
drums. 

At daybreak on 1 November the nth Marines, assisted by the 3d Defense 
Battalion's 5-inch guns, fired the preliminary bombardment. The cruisers San 
Francisco and Helena and the destroyer Sterrett had been sent up by Admiral 
Halsey, and they shelled the areas west of Point Cruz. 2 P-39's and SBD's from 

1 1st Mar Div Opn Ord No. 13-42, 30 Oct 42, in 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Annex K. 

a CTF 65 to COMSOPAC, 0330 of 4 Nov 42; CG 1st Mar Div to COMSOPAC, 2131 of 1 Nov 42. 
SOPAC War Diary. 



ADVANCES TOWARD KOKUMBONA 



193 




MAP NO. 9 



Henderson Field struck Japanese artillery positions, while nineteen B-17's from 
Espiritu Santo dropped 335 100-pound bombs on Kokumbona. 8 

When the artillery fire lifted, the three battalions of the 5th Marines started 
across the Matanikau bridges. (Map 9) By 0700 the move had been completed 
successfully, and the 1st and 2d Battalions, on the right and left respectively, 
deployed to the attack. Their left was covered by the Whaling Group, which 
had crossed the river farther upstream. The 1st Battalion of the 5th, advancing 
over the flat ground along the beach, met the heaviest opposition as the Japanese, 
yielding ground slowly and reluctantly, fought a delaying action. The 2d Bat- 
talion, moving over higher ground, pushed ahead rapidly and lost contact with 
the 1st shortly after 1230. The advancing forces halted for the night short of 
Point Cruz, having gained slightly more than 1,000 yards in the day's action. 

During the day the engineers, using a 10-ton temporary pier, had put a 
vehicular bridge across the Matanikau about 500 yards from the mouth. Although 
completed that day the bridge could not be used until the following afternoon, 
when a new road from the coast road to the bridge was completed. 

8 COMAIRSOPAC to COMSOPAC, 0705 of 1 Nov 42. SOPAC War Diary. 



THE POINT CRUZ TRAP into which the Japanese were pushed by the advance of 1-4 
November, is shown at the top of this vertical aerial photograph. Bridging the Matani\au 
in the vicinity of the sharp river bend, the 5th Marines moved along the flat coastland north 
of Hills y8 and 79 while the Whaling Group crossed near Hill 6y and fought westward over 
the terrain of Hills 



ADVANCES TOWARD KOKUMBONA 



J 95 



The next morning Colonel Edson committed the reserve 3d Battalion to 
assist the 1st Battalion on the right, while the 2d Battalion, having advanced 
beyond Point Cruz, turned to the right to envelop the enemy by attacking north- 
ward. By 1042 the 2d Battalion had reached the beach west of the Point and 
trapped the Japanese who were still opposing the 1st and 3d Battalions. 4 

During the afternoon of 2 November the two battalions of the 2d Marines 
passed by on the left of the 5th Marines to continue the westward push the next 
day. On 3 November the 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, and the Whaling Group, 
which had continued its advance inland, led the assault. The 2d Battalion, 2d 
Marines, and the 1st Battalion, 164th Infantry (Lt. CoL Frank C. Richards com- 
manding), which had been ordered forward from its positions on the Ilu River, 
were in reserve. Meanwhile the 5th Marines successfully reduced the pocket at 
Point Cruz; the regiment killed about 350 Japanese and captured twelve 37-mm. 
guns, one field piece, and thirty-four machine guns. In the final phases of the 
mop-up the 5th Marines delivered three successful bayonet assaults, 5 and drove 
the surviving Japanese into the sea. 6 After the reduction of the pocket the 5th 
Marines and the Whaling Group were ordered back to the Lunga area, and 
Colonel Arthur, commanding the 2d Marines, took over tactical direction of the 
offensive from Colonel Edson, 

The next day the 1st Battalion of the 164th Infantry and the 2d Marines 
(less the 3d Battalion) resumed the advance. By afternoon they had moved 
forward against the retreating Japanese to a point about 2,000 yards west of Point 
Cruz, or about 4,000 yards short of Kokumbona. At that point division head- 
quarters halted the advance. Enemy troops had landed east of the perimeter 
defense, and there could be no further westward movement until the threat had 
been removed. At 1500 the three battalions dug in at Point Cruz to hold part of 
the ground they had gained. 
Koli PoiM 

Division headquarters had been expecting a Japanese landing in early 
November at Koli Point east of the Lunga perimeter. 7 To forestall the attempt, 
the 2d Battalion of the 7th Marines, Lt. Col. H. H. Hanneken commanding, had 
been ordered out of the Lunga perimeter to make a forced march to the Meta- 
pona River, about thirteen miles east of the Lunga. By nightfall of 2 November, 

* 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Annex P (5th Mar Record), 9-10. 

6 istMarDivRpt,V, 28. 

fl Rpt, OPD Obs to OPD, 13 Mar 43, App. III. OPD 381 SOP AC Sec. Ill PTO (3-13-43). 

7 CG 1 st Mar Div to COMSOPAC, 0005 of 1 Nov 42. SOPAC War Diary. 



196 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



KOLI POINT 

2-3 November 1942 




MAP NO. 10 



when the 5th Marines had reduced the Point Cruz pocket, the battalion had 
established defensive positions east of the Metapona's mouth near the village of 
Tetere. (Map 10) About 2200 on 2 November the silhouettes of one Japanese 
cruiser, one transport, and three destroyers appeared offshore in the rainy dark- 
ness to land supplies and about 1,500 soldiers 8 from the 130th Infantry at Gavaga 
Creek, about one mile east of Colonel Hanneken's position. Hyakutake had 
ordered these troops, with ammunition and provisions for 2,000 men, to land, 
join Shoji's force in the vicinity of Koli Point, and build an airfield. 9 

By the time the Japanese were landing, Colonel Hanneken's radio com- 
munication had failed, and he was unable to inform division headquarters of 
his situation. The next morning the Japanese force moved west. The Marine 
battalion engaged the enemy, and was hit by artillery and mortar fire. When one 
Japanese unit pushed southwest to outflank the marines, the battalion, fighting 

8 CG 1st Mar Div to COMSOPAC, 2205 of 17 Nov 42. SOPAC War Diary. 

B 17th Army Opns, I; Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab A; XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, which states that landing craft 
brought the Japanese from the western beaches of Guadalcanal, asserts that two battalions landed. Brig. Gen. 
E. B. Scbree, when Military Attache to Australia, interrogated the prisoner of war Maj. Gen. Takeo Ito 
(former CG, 38th Div Inf Gp) at Rabaul in 1947. Ito stated that the only troops at Koli Point then were 
the 230th hnjantry survivors who had come there in October; the ships landed only supplies on the night 
of 2r-3 November 1942. Interv with Gen Sebree, 19-20 Jun 43, who lent his notes of the interrogation of 
Ito to the author. 



ADVANCES TOWARD KOKUMBONA 



197 



as it went, withdrew slowly westward along the coast, crossed the Nalimbiu, 
and took a stronger position on the west bank. Colonel Hanneken, whose 
troops were running short of food, attempted to radio information about his 
situation to division headquarters but was not able to get his message through 
until 1445. 10 

When headquarters received Hanneken's message, arrangements for sup- 
port and reinforcement were quickly completed. Aircraft from the Lunga air- 
fields bombed and strafed enemy positions, but as no targets were visible from 
the air results were probably insignificant. 11 The cruisers San Francisco and 
Helena and the destroyers Sterrett and Lansdowne, which had been supporting 
the Kokumbona attack, sailed eastward to shell Koli Point. 12 The 1st Battalion, 
7th Marines, with the regimental commander Col. Amor L. Sims, immediately 
embar ked on landing craft to reinforce the 2d Battalion at Koli Point. {Map 



VllL) The 164th Infantry (less the 1st Battalion) was ordered out of its positions 



along the Ilu to march east to a point about 4,000 yards south of the 7th Marines 
at Koli Point to be in position to envelop the Japanese left (south) flank. 13 

General Rupertus, assistant commander of the 1st Marine Division, took 
command of the Koli Point operation, his first tactical experience on Guadal- 
canal. On 4 November, the day on which the Kokumbona attack was halted, 
the Lunga perimeter command was reorganized. General Rupertus was trans- 
ferred from the relative quiet of Tulagi to Guadalcanal. The Lunga area was 
divided into two separate sectors, one east of the Lunga and one west of the river. 
General Rupertus took the east sector. Brig. Gen. Edmund B. Sebree, assistant 
commander of the Americal Division, who had just landed on the island to pre- 
pare for the arrival of the remainder of his division, took the west sector. Both 
generals reported directly to division headquarters, which thus operated as a 
small corps headquarters. 

On 4 November General Rupertus, and regimental headquarters and the 
rst Battalion of the 7th Marines reached Koli Point. The 164th Infantry (less the 
rst Battalion) and B Company of the 8th Marines left the Ilu River line at 0600 
to march to their objective about seven miles to the east. General Sebree accom- 
panied the 164th to gain close experience with jungle warfare. At the same time, 
1st Marine Division headquarters issued orders to the 2d Raider Battalion, 

10 ist Mar Div Rpt, V, Annex U, (D-3 Journal), 25; 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, 29. 

11 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Int Annex N, 15. 

12 CTF 65 to COMSOPAC, 0330 of 4 Nov 42. SOPAC War Diary; ist Mar Div Rpt, V, Int Annex N, 15. 
ia 164th InfOpn Rpt, 31 Oc.t-7 Nov 42, in USAFISPA G-3 Periodic Rpts, 29 Oct-16 Nov 42. 



ig8 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



which had just landed at Aola Bay with the 147th Infantry, to advance overland 
toward Koli Point to intercept any Japanese detachments moving eastward. 

The 164th Infantry progressed slowly on its inland march through swampy 
jungles and hot stretches of high kunai grass. As there were no inland roads, 
trucks carried some supplies along the coast to Koli Point, but inland the soldiers 
of the 164th Infantry, wearing full combat equipment, had to hand-carry all 
their weapons and ammunition. It was noon before the regiment reached the 
first assembly area on the west bank of the Nalimbiu River. While regimental 
headquarters and the 3d Battalion bivouacked for the night, the 2d Battalion 
advanced northward in column of companies along the west bank of the Nalim- 
biu. After advancing about 2,000 yards, the 2d Battalion bivouacked. It had not 
established contact with the 7th Marines. Patrols had met only a few small Jap- 
anese units. 

On the following morning, 5 November, General Rupertus ordered the 
164th Infantry (less the 1st Battalion) to cross to the east bank of the Nalimbiu, 
and then to advance north to Koli Point to destroy the Japanese facing the 7th 
Marines at Koli Point. The 3d Battalion crossed the flooded Nalimbiu about 
3,500 yards south of Koli Point, then swung north to advance along the east bank. 
Again no large organized enemy force appeared. The battalion advanced against 
occasional rifle and machine-gun fire. Machine-gun fire halted two platoons of 
G Company for a time until American artillery and mortar fire silenced the 
enemy guns. The 2d Battalion of the 164th Infantry, which had withdrawn to 
the south from its bivouac positions, followed on the right and rear of the 3d 
Battalion, 

Action on 6 November was indecisive. The 7th Marines crossed the flooded 
Nalimbiu with difficulty, while the 164th Infantry's battalions moved slowly 
through the jungle. The 3d Battalion found an abandoned Japanese bivouac 
about 1,000 yards south of Koli Point, but the enemy had escaped to the east. 
The 3d Battalion reached Koli Point at night on 6 November and was followed 
by the 2d Battalion the next morning. During the night of 5-6 November the 
2d and 3d Battalions, mistaking each other for the enemy, exchanged shots. 14 
Regimental headquarters and the Antitank and E Companies of the 164th In- 
fantry, together with B Company of the 8th Marines, followed a more circuitous 
route, and reached Koli Point later in the morning. 

The combined force then advanced eastward to a point about one mile west 

14 Intcrv with Gen Sebree. 



ADVANCES TOWARD KOKUMBONA 



199 



of the wide mouth of the Metapona River. Again there was no enemy resistance, 
possibly because the Japanese were preparing defenses east of the Metapona to 
permit the main body to escape. 15 The Americans dug in to defend the beach 
west of the Metapona against an expected landing on the night of 7-8 Novem- 
ber, but it failed to materialize. On 8 November the 2d Battalion of the 164th 
Infantry was attached to the 7th Marines and placed in reserve. To surround the 
Japanese, who had dug in along Gavaga Creek at Tetere about one mile east 
of the Metapona, the three battalions left their positions west of the wide, 
swampy mouth of the Metapona and advanced to the east and west of Gavaga 
Creek. The 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, occupied the west bank and took posi- 
tions running inland from the beach. The 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, was posted 
on the east to hold a shorter line between the east bank of Gavaga Creek and 
the beach. When dengue fever put General Rupertus out of action on 8 Novem- 
ber, General Sebree took command on orders from Vandegrift. 

With the Japanese force located and surrounded, the size of the American 
force at Koli Point could be safely reduced. Since General Vandegrift desired 
to commit a large part of the 164th Infantry to the attack against Kokumbona, 
regimental headquarters, the Antitank Company, and the 3d Battalion of the 
164th Infantry and B Company of the 8th Marines were brought back to the 
Lunga perimeter by boat and truck on 9 November. 

On that day, at Koli Point, the 2d Battalion (less E Company) of the 164th 
Infantry took positions on the right of the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. During 
the night E Company was committed to the left flank of the 2d Battalion of the 
7th Marines. The Americans now held a curved line from the beach around a 
horseshoe bend in Gavaga Creek. The Japanese, blocked on the east and west, 
repeatedly attempted to break out of the trap. They used machine guns, mor- 
tars, and hand grenades in their attempts to drive the Americans back. One gap 
in the American lines remained open in the south, for F and E Companies of 
the 164th, which were separated by the swampy creek, had failed to make con- 
tact. Although wounded seven times by mortar shell fragments, Colonel Puller 
remained in command of the 1st Battalion of the 7th Marines. 

The marines and soldiers, supported by 155-mm. gun batteries, two 75-mm. 
pack howitzer batteries, and aircraft, began to reduce the pocket. The Japanese 
resisted vigorously with grenades, mortars, automatic weapons, and small arms. 
On 10 November F Company of the 164th Infantry attempted to close the gap 

" 164th Inf Opn Rpt. 



200 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



and join flanks with E Company. The attempt failed, and the commander of 
the 2d Battalion of the 164th was relieved. 16 On the next day G Company drove 
east to close the gap. As the Marine battalions closed in from the east and west, 
the 2d Battalion of the 164th Infantry pushed north to reach the beaches in the 
late afternoon of 11 November. By 12 November the pocket had been entirely 
cleared. About forty Americans had been killed, 120 wounded; 450 Japanese 
had been killed. 17 The captured materiel included, besides stores of rations and 
fifty collapsible landing boats, General Kawaguchi's personal effects. 

Hyakutake apparently abandoned the idea of building an airfield near Koli 
Point, for he ordered Shoji's troops to return via the inland route to Kokum- 
bona. 18 Some of the Japanese had escaped through the gap between the two 
companies, and some others had apparently withdrawn inland about 7 Novem- 
ber. These forces, retreating south and west toward Mount Austen, were harried 
by Lt. Col. Evans F, Carlson's 2d Raider Battalion which had marched west 
from Aola Bay. The raiders, in a remarkable 30-day march outside the American 
lines, covered 150 miles, fought 12 separate actions, and killed over 400 enemy 
soldiers at a cost of only 17 raiders killed before they finally entered the Lunga 
perimeter on 4 December. 19 Of the estimated 1,500 Japanese soldiers who may 
have landed at Koli Point, probably less than half survived to rejoin the main 
forces at Mount Austen and the hills to the west. 
Resumption of the Ko^umbona Offensive 

On 10 November, with the trapping of the Japanese at Koli Point, it became 
possible to renew the westward offensive toward Kokumbona. Under Colonel 
Arthur's command, the 1st Battalion of the 164th Infantry, the newly arrived 
8th Marines, and the 2d Marines (less the 3d Battalion) moved west from Point 
Cruz on 10 November. Supported by fire from the 1st, 3d, and 5th Battalions of 
the nth Marines, the composite force executed a frontal attack on a three-bat- 
talion front. The 1st Battalion, 164th Infantry, advanced on the right along the 
beach; the 2d Battalion, 2d Marines, advanced in the center, and the 1st Bat- 
talion, 2d Marines, was echeloned to the left and rear in the attack. On n 
November the advance was resumed against rifle, machine-gun, and mortar 
fire. By noon the troops had fought their way to a point slightly beyond that 
which they had reached on 4 November. 

18 Interv with Gen Sebree. 

17 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, 30. 

18 lytk Army Opns, I, which does not mention the engagement at Koli Point. 

19 1 st Mar Div Rpt, V, 30-31. 




CARLSON'S RAIDERS, LANDING AT AOLA BAY the morning of 4 November, moved 
toward Koli Point to intercept Japanese forces which had come ashore east of the Lunga 
perimeter. Enemy positions were beyond Taivu Point, seen on the far horizon. 




JAPANESE COLLAPSIBLE LANDING BOATS of the type shown in this picture ta\en 
later in the Guadalcanal campaign, were part of the materiel captured at Koli Point. With 
the stern section removed, the boat's sides can be compressed as the rubber bottom folds. 



202 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



The Japanese were grimly determined to prevent the Americans from tak- 
ing Kokumbona. This village was the site of the ijth Army command post, and 
also the terminus of the main supply trail to the positions which the Japanese 
were secretly preparing on Mount Austen. Accordingly Hyakutake assigned the 
mission of halting the American attack to a new general, Maj. Gen. Takeo Ito, 
Infantry Group commander of the 38th Division and a veteran of the fighting 
in China. Ito had landed at Tassafaronga from a destroyer on 5 November to 
take command of a reserve force of 5,000 men. Believing that the American front 
west of Point Cruz was so narrow that he could easily outflank it, he moved his 
force to a concealed position in the jungled hills on the left flank of the Ameri- 
cans, about 5,000 yards south of the beach. From this point he planned to strike 
the American left flank and rear. 20 

Before Ito could attack, and before the Americans were even aware that 
their left was in danger, Vandegrift was once more forced to halt the offensive 
when he received word that the Japanese were preparing to bring large troop 
convoys to Guadalcanal in mid-November. To meet the threat of another coun- 
teroffensive, all troops were needed within the Lunga perimeter. 

The battalions disengaged ; the 2d and 8th Marines retired toward the Mata- 
nikau, covered by the 1st Battalion of the 164th Infantry. The marines recrossed 
the Matanikau on 11 November, followed next day by the Army battalion. The 
entire 164th Infantry, having returned from its operations across the Matanikau 
and Metapona Rivers, went into division reserve. Once safely across the Matani- 
kau, the Americans destroyed the bridges and held their lines while the air and 
naval forces fought desperately to keep the Japanese away. 

Push Toward the Poha 

As a result of the naval victory in mid-November and the arrival of the i82d 
Infantry, commanded by Col Daniel W. Hogan, the offensive toward Kokum- 
bona and the Poha Rivers was resumed. The 1st Marine Division headquarters, 
which ordered the attack, placed General Sebree, commander of the western 
sector, in tactical command. Available troops in the west sector included the 164th 
Infantry, the 8th Marines, and the two battalions of the i82d Infantry. To sup- 
port operations in any direction, all artillery battalions remained grouped within 
the perimeter under del Valle's command. 

a0 Interv with Gen Sebree. 



ADVANCES TOWARD KOKUMBONA 



203 



General Sebree planned first to gain a line of departure far enough west of 
the Matanikau and far enough south of the beach to provide sufficient room for 
the regiments to maneuver. Once the line of departure had been gained, a full- 
scale offensive could be opened. The line which General Sebree planned to cap- 
ture first ran about 2,500 yards inland from Point Cruz to the southernmost point 
(Hill 66) of a 1,700-yard-long ridge (Hills 66-81-80). 

It was thought that the west bank of the Matanikau was not occupied by 
the Japanese during the second week of November. This belief was confirmed 
by infantry and aerial reconnaissance patrols, and General Sebree and Colonel 
Whaling of the Marines personally patrolled the ground as far west as Point 
Cruz without meeting any Japanese. 

Once the line of departure had been gained, the assault units were to move 
west, followed by the 1st Marines on the inland flank. The latter regiment was 
to turn northward to envelop any Japanese pockets as the 5th Marines had done 
so successfully earlier in the month, while the assault units continued to advance 
westward. This part of the plan was canceled when the 1st Marine Division 
was alerted for departure from Guadalcanal. 21 

The 2d Battalion of the i82d Infantry was to cross the Matanikau on 18 
November to seize Hill 66, the highest ground north of the northwest Matani- 
kau fork, and the 1st Battalion of the i82d Infantry would advance across the 
river and west to Point Cruz the next day. As the American forces which had 
withdrawn on n-12 November had destroyed all the Matanikau bridges, en- 
gineers were to bridge the river, improve the coast road, and build a trail over 
the ridges to Hill 66. 

The terrain west of the Matanikau differs from the deep jungles of the 
inland areas. The coast is flat and sandy. South of the beach rocky ridges, cov- 
ered with brush and coarse grass, thrust upward to heights of several hundred 
feet. These ridges, running from north to south, rise near the beach and increase 
in height toward the south. Between these steep ridges are deep, jungled ra- 
vines which the Japanese could exploit to good advantage. The ridge line 
formed by Hills 80, 81, and 66 faces northwest and turns sharply eastward at 
Hill 66 toward the Matanikau River's main stream. It is separated from the 
high hills on the south by the valley cut by the northwest Matanikau fork. 

Unknown to the Americans, the ijth Army had also been planning for 
local offensive action. While the shattered 2d Division assembled near Kokum- 

21 Ibid.; intcrv with Col Paul A. Gavan (former G-3, Amcr Div), 14 Nov 46. No formal field order was 

published. 



204 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



bona, the 38th Division had been ordered to advance east from Kokumbona, 
cross the Matanikau, and seize the high ground on the east bank for artillery 
positions and as a line of departure for another assault against the Lunga air- 
fields. At the same time troops under Ito's command had been ordered to 
occupy Mount Austen. 22 

On 18 November the 2d Battalion of the i82d Infantry (Lt. Col. Bernard 
B, Twombley commanding), covered by the 8th Marines on the east bank of 
the Matanikau, crossed a footbridge about 700 yards from the Matanikau's 
mouth to seize Hill 66. \(Map 7X)| The battalion climbed to the top of the first 
ridge on the west bank (Hill 75) and advanced southwest behind the ridge 
crest toward Hill 66, about 2,000 yards from Hill 75. There were no Japanese 
on the ridges, but the inexperienced battalion made slow progress. The men, 
having landed only six days before, were not yet accustomed to the moist heat. 
Since landing, most of them had been unloading ships and moving their sup- 
plies. They carried full loads of ammunition, water, and food. Many who had 
not swallowed salt tablets collapsed, exhausted from the hard climb. The 2d 
Battalion did not reach Hill 66 until noon. 23 Having taken the objective, the 
men dug foxholes and gun emplacements on the west and south military crests 
of Hill 66. On the left was G Company, and F on the right. Battalion reserve 
consisted of E Company, and H Company put its mortars in a gully behind the 
battalion command post. 24 

In the afternoon a detail of two officers and thirty enlisted men from G 
Company went into the valley on the south to fill canteens at a water hole. 
They reached the spring safely, but failed to post sentries as they filled the 
clanking canteens. As one man in the group glanced up, he saw a Japanese offi- 
cer and about twenty soldiers deploying in the jungle near by. The Japanese 
promptly opened fire. The water detail scattered, each man taking cover as best 
he could. When a rescue party from the 2d Battalion later made its way to the 
spring, the enemy patrol withdrew and the water party straggled back to the 
crest of Hill 66. One officer and one enlisted man had been killed. 26 There 
were no more encounters with the Japanese that day. 

The 1st Battalion of the i82d Infantry, commanded by Lt. Col. Francis F. 

22 17th Army Opns, I; Interrog of Hyakutake, Miyazaki, and Maruyama. 

33 Interv USAFISPA Hist Off with Col William D. Long (former G-2, Amer Div), 31 May 44; interv, 
author, with Col Long, 26 Mar 46. 

" 2d Bn, i82d Inf, S~2 Journal, 18 Nov 42. 
aB Interv with Col Long. 



ADVANCES TOWARD KOKUMBONA 



205 



MacGowan, crossed the Matanikau the next morning (19 November). The 
battalion advanced along the flat ground between the northernmost hills and 
the beach, while B Company of the 8th Marines, acting on Sebree's orders, ad- 
vanced over the most northerly hill (Hill 78) to cover the battalion's left flank. 
About 400 yards west of the river the battalion met fire from small enemy 
groups, but there was no heavy fighting. The battalion moved slowly and cau- 
tiously, fighting a series of skirmishes as it moved toward Point Cruz. 26 

B Company of the 8th Marines also met enemy fire west of Point Cruz 
and withdrew to the vicinity of Hill 78 to take cover. The company again at- 
tempted to advance, but could not gain ground. 27 About noon Colonel Mac- 
Gowan's battalion halted just east of Point Cruz; it dug in along a 700-yard 
line from the beach east of the point to the west tip of Hill 78, refusing the left 
flank eastward a short distance along the south slopes of the hill. The Marine 
company then withdrew across the Matanikau to rejoin its regiment. The 1st 
and 2d Battalions of the i82d Infantry were then separated by a gap of over 
1,000 yards. 

Japanese troops had been secretly moving east from Kokumbona. 28 These 
forces took positions west of the 1st Battalion during the night of 19-20 No- 
vember, while artillery and mortars fired on the American lines. About dawn 
on 20 November part of this force struck suddenly at the 1st Battalion's left 
flank. The troops holding high ground on the battalion's left held their line, 
but as the attack developed along the 1st Battalion's line the troops on the low 
ground fell back about 400 yards. General Sebree, Lt. Col. Paul A. Gavan, the 
operations officer, and Lt. Col. Paul Daly, the assistant intelligence officer, of the 
Americal Division, came forward and found the battalion "somewhat shaken." 
They halted the withdrawal and reorganized the companies. 29 

Planes and artillery then struck at the Japanese, who had not exploited 
their advantage by advancing east of Point Cruz, and the 1st Battalion again 
moved west and by 0900 had regained its position. 30 

C and A Companies of the i82d attacked west after the recapture of the 
initial line and advanced to the beach just west of Point Cruz. There the attack 
stalled after the companies had been hit hard by Japanese artillery and mortar 

2<J Interv with Col Gavan. 

21 Amcr Div Narrative of Opns, p. 3. 

28 XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, pp. 4—5. 

26 Lt Col Paul A. Gavan, Personal Experience Account of ACofS, G~3, Amer Div, p. 1; interv with Col 
Gavan. 

30 intervs with Gen Sebree and Col Gavan. 



206 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



fire. There was "considerable confusion and some straggling" in the i82d In- 
fantry, and it was only after order had been restored that the ist Battalion or- 
ganized a disciplined firing line. 31 The Japanese retained Point Cruz itself. 

By afternoon on 20 November it had become obvious that more American 
troops were needed west of the Matanikau. The Japanese were known to be 
moving more troops forward into the engagement. 32 General Sebree there- 
fore ordered the more experienced 164th Infantry out of reserve to fill the gap 
between the two battalions of the i82d Infantry. The 164th Infantry was to 
enter the line under cover of darkness and attack the next morning. The ist 
Battalion of the 164th Infantry entered the line on the left of the ist Battalion 
of the i82d Infantry, and the 3d Battalion of the 164th moved in between the 
2d Battalion, i82d Infantry, and the ist Battalion, 164th. Each battalion of the 
164th took over about 500 yards of the line, and the i82d Infantry battalions, 
on either side of the 164th Infantry, extended their flanks to join with those of 
the 164th. 

During the first three days of the operation supplies for the units west of 
the Matanikau had been carried forward by hand from the river line. The en- 
gineers finally succeeded in building a footbridge over the flooded Matanikau, 
but the bridge for heavy vehicles was not completed until 21 November. 33 

The ist Battalion of the i82d attacked west from the Point Cruz area on 
21 November. It met heavy artillery and mortar fire, as well as small-arms fire 
from some Japanese entrenched on Point Cruz itself, the beach on the west, 
and the near-by hills and ravines. The battalion reduced Point Cruz, but failed 
to advance west. 34 

The battalions of the 164th Infantry also attacked to the west on 21 Novem- 
ber from the Hill 80-81 ridge line. A ravine about 200 feet deep, varying in 
width from 150 to 300 feet, lay directly in front of Hills 80 and 81. A series of 
steep ridges (Hills 83 and 82) lay west of the ravine. To get through the ravine 
and gain the ridges on the west, it would be necessary for the 164th Infantry to 
cross about fifty yards of open ground on the ridge. Between 11 and 18 No- 
vember the Japanese had built strong positions, containing a large number of 
automatic weapons, in the hills and ravines and on the flat ground west of 
Point Cruz. The hill positions, well dug in on the reverse slopes, were defiladed 

81 Amer Div Narrative of Opns, p. 3. 

Ba Gavan, Persona] Experience Account, p. 2, 

83 Intervs with Col Long. 

34 18 2d Inf Opn Rpt, pp. 3-4. 




THE RAVINE IN FRONT OF HILLS 80-81, where the 164th Infantry attacks stalled on 
23 November, was well defended by Japanese dug into defiladed positions in Hills 83 and 82. 
American troops were halted on the line of Hills 66, 81 f 80. 



208 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



from American artillery and mortar fire. Machine guns sited at the head of each 
ravine could put flanking fire into advancing troops. The ravine in front of 
Hills 81^80 was especially well defended. On the flat ground in places where a 
thin layer of earth covered a coral shelf, the Japanese had dug shallow pits with 
overhead cover, as well as foxholes under logs and behind trees. These posi- 
tions, organized in depth, were mutually supporting. Small arms supported the 
automatic weapons, and artillery and mortars could cover the entire American 
front. 85 

Japanese fire quickly halted the 164th Infantry after it had made an aver- 
age gain of less than forty yards. The i8^d and 164th Regiments attacked again 
on 22 November but failed to make progress. In the afternoon the 8th Marines 
was notified that it was to pass through the 164th Infantry the next day to at- 
tack toward Hill 83. 

After the infantry had withdrawn 300 yards behind the front lines early on 
23 November, the 245th Field Artillery Battalion and L Battery and the 1st and 
2d Battalions of the nth Marines fired a 30-minute concentration on the Japa- 
nese lines. The 8th Marines then passed through the 164th Infantry and deliv- 
ered successive attacks against the Japanese throughout the day. The regiment 
was supported by the artillery which fired 2,628 rounds of all calibers. 36 During 
the bombardment, Hyakutake and the ijth Army chief of staff were slightly 
injured at their command post near Kokumbona. 37 The American forces failed 
to gain. The Japanese, defending vigorously, put fire all along the entire 
American lines. The 3d Battalion of the 164th Infantry was hit by accurate fire. 
In the afternoon of 23 November mortar fire struck the command posts of L, I, 
and K Companies, and killed the battalion surgeon, four lieutenants, and one 
i st sergeant. 

American headquarters concluded that "further advance would not be 
possible without accepting casualties in numbers to preclude the advisability of 
[continuing] this action." 39 The troops were ordered to dig in to hold the Hill 
66-80-81-Point Cruz line. The attack had ended in a stalemate. 

Operations up to 23 November had demonstrated that frontal assault would 
be costly. By 25 November less than 2,000 men of the 164th Infantry were fit 

36 Intervs with Col Long. 

88 1 st Mar Div Rpt, V, Arty Annex R, 3. 
* 7 17th Army Opns, I. 

38 164th Inf Unit Rpt, 23 Nov 42. Colonel Hall, 3d Battalion commander, was wounded and evacuated 
from the island the next day. 

89 Amer Div Narratives of Opns, p. 3. 



ADVANCES TOWARD KOKUMBONA 



209 



for combat. Between 19 and 25 November 117 of the 164th had been killed, and 
208 had been wounded. Three hundred and twenty-five had been evacuated 
from the island because of wounds or illness, and 300 more men, rendered inef- 
fective by wounds, malaria, dysentery, or neuroses, were kept in the rear areas. 40 
The 1st Marine Division was soon to be relieved, and its impending departure 
would reduce American troop strength too greatly to permit the execution of 
any flanking movements over the hills south of Hill 66. Until reinforcements 
could be brought in, the westward offensive had to be suspended. 

The attacks on 18-23 November had, however, achieved some success. 
Hyakutake's plan to recapture the Matanikau's east bank had been thwarted, 
although in November he secretly began to increase his strength on Mount 
Austen* 41 American troops had finally established permanent positions west of 
the Matanikau. The Americans and the Japanese now faced one another at close 
ranges, the Americans on high ground, the Japanese on reverse slopes and in 
ravines. Each side could cover the opponent's lines with rifle, automatic, mortar, 
and artillery fire, and put mortar and artillery fire on the trails and rear areas. 
Americans and Japanese were to hold these static but dangerous lines until the 
beginning of the XIV Corps' general offensive in January. 

40 164th Inf S-i Journal, 25 Nov 42. 

41 On 30 November 1942, 8 enemy destroyers attempted to land reinforcements and supplies. Intercepted 
by 5 U.S. cruisers and 6 destroyers off Tassafaronga, they failed, but sank 1 and damaged 3 American cruisers, 
suffering 1 destroyer sunk and 1 damaged. See USSBS, Campaigns of Pacific War, pp. 139-40, and ONI, USN, 
Combat Narratives: Solomon Islands Campaign, VII, Battle of Tassafaronga, 30 November IQ42 (Washington, 
1944). 



CHAPTER IX 



The Situation in December 

General Patch Ta\es Command 

By the end of November, the higher commanders in the Pacific clearly 
recognized that the ist Marine Division needed to be relieved and evacuated to 
a healthier climate. The division had begun the first offensive undertaken by 
American ground troops in World War II. Despite the lack of the powerful air 
and surface support that American infantrymen in later campaigns were to 
take almost for granted, and in spite of air raids, naval bombardments, inade- 
quate diet, inadequate armament, and resolute Japanese infantry attacks, it had 
captured and successfully defended an airfield of great importance. Its achieve- 
ments were rewarded by the Presidential Unit Citation. 

Marine battle casualties had not been excessive. Over 600 men of the divi- 
sion were killed in action or died of wounds and other causes between 7 August 
and 10 December 1942. During the same period the dead of other American 
units on Guadalcanal totaled 691. Over 2,100 sick and wounded men of the ist 
Division had already been evacuated. 

In the Solomons battle casualties did not accurately reflect a unit's losses. 
Hospital admissions resulting from sickness must also be taken into account. 
Up to 10 December 1942, of the 10,635 casualties in the division, only 1472 re- 
sulted from gunshot wounds; 5,749 malaria cases had put men out of action. In 
November malaria alone sent 3,283 into the hospital. Gastro-enteritis, which 
had struck nearly 500 men during August and September, materially decreased 
during the following months and in December only 12 cases appeared. War 
neuroses afflicted 110 during October when enemy bombardments had been 
heaviest, but in November only 13 were affected. 1 These figures are not neces- 
sarily mutually exclusive. Many malaria victims were hospitalized more than 
once; many of the same men were also later killed or wounded. Thus the num- 
ber of men in the division who were not hospitalized may have been larger 

1 ist Mar Div Rpt, V, Annex X, i. 




RELIEF FOR THE MARINES AND A CHANGE OF COMMAND were major decisions 
acted upon at Guadalcanal in December, 1942. The jst Marine Division, while still fighting 
hard, had lost many men and the makeshift sic\ bays (above) were handling a capacity of 
cases. General Patch ( wearing glasses, lower photo) succeeded Marine General Vandegrift 
(right), with whom he is shown in conference. At left is Col R. Hall feschfa USMC. 




212 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



than the statistics indicate. Yet many other malaria victims did not report for 
treatment, and many milder cases were not hospitalized. 

The men who had remained on duty were ready for relief. They had en- 
dured months of intermittent combat, air raids, and naval attacks. Inadequate 
diet had caused nearly every man to lose weight. Secondary anemia was com- 
mon. Weakness resulting from malnutrition, heat, and disease was causing an 
excessive number of march casualties in all units. Merely living in the Lunga 
perimeter was an ordeal in itself. Water was insufficient for bathing and laun- 
dry, and fungi frequently infected those who bathed in the rivers. The old 
October perimeter had included less than thirty square miles, so there were no 
real rest areas, nor any recreational facilities. Flies, attracted by unburied enemy 
corpses lying beyond the perimeter, harassed the troops constantly. They clus- 
tered so thickly that men messing in the open had to brush flies off their food 
with one hand while eating with the other. 

As early as 3 November Halsey had wished to relieve the worn-out division, 
but he was unable to do so until he could send more fresh troops to Guadalcanal. 
The 43d Division was already on its way to the South Pacific; the first elements 
of the division had arrived in the area in early October. On 3 November Harmon 
repeated an earlier request that General Marshall send the 25th Division, then 
assisting in the defense of the Hawaiian Islands, to the South Pacific. 2 While 
General Marshall had alerted the 25th Division for movement as early as 19 
October, it was not then definitely decided whether the division was to go to 
the South or to the Southwest Pacific Area. One combat team of the 25th Divi- 
sion was to have left Pearl Harbor in November, 3 but it was delayed when the 
ship aboard which it was to sail, the President Coolidge, sank on 26 October 
when it struck two U. S. mines off Espiritu Santo. 4 The Coolidge was carrying 
the i72d Regimental Combat Team of the 43d Division. 

On 30 November the Joint Chiefs of Staff decided to send to the South 
Pacific the 25th Division, commanded by Maj. Gen. J. Lawton Collins. The 1st 
Marine Division was to be relieved, with the first echelon leaving in early De- 
cember. It was to go to the Southwest Pacific Area to be rehabilitated and to 
provide General MacArthur with a division having amphibious training. 5 

a COMGENSOPAC to WDCSA, 1028 of 3 Nov 42. SOP AC War Diary. 
8 OPD memo for record, 19 Oct 42. OPD 370.5 PTO Sec. I Case 34. 

4 Memo, ACofS OPD for WDCSA, 29 Oct 42, sub: Delay in Movement 25th Div, and OPD memo for 
record, 30 Oct 42. OPD 370.5 PTO (10—30—42) Case 45. 

6 OPD memo for record, 30 Nov 42, sub: Change Destination 25th Diy and 1st Mar Div. OPD 370.5 PTO 
(11-30-42) Case 45. 



THE SITUATION IN DECEMBER 



213 



On Guadalcanal staff officers of the Americal Division, who had arrived in 
November and been working closely with the Marine division staff, were pre- 
paring to take over. At the beginning of December they moved into the Marine 
staff sections to acquaint themselves with the problems peculiar to Guadalcanal. 
The Americal Division's supply sections completed an inventory of the stocks 
on the island, and on 1 December they assumed responsibility for supply. By 
8 December all Army staff officers had assumed complete responsibility. 

The selection of a commander to succeed General Vandegrift was left to 
General Harmon. He chose Maj. Gen. Alexander M. Patch, commanding gen- 
eral of the Americal Division, to direct tactical operations on Guadalcanal. 6 
On 9 December General Patch relieved General Vandegrift, who was to leave 
with his division. 7 The evacuation of the 1st Division began on the same day, 
when three ships carrying the 5th Marines sailed out of Sealark Channel for 
Australia. 8 By the end of the month the rest of the division had followed. 

General Patch, the new commander, born in 1889, was graduated from the 
U. S. Military Academy in 1913. He saw active service in France during World 
War I, taught military science and tactics at Staunton Military Academy in 
Virginia during three separate tours of duty, and was graduated from the Com- 
mand and General Staff School and from the Army War College. From 1936 to 
1941, he served on the Infantry Board at Fort Benning, with the 47th Infantry, 
and commanded the Infantry Replacement Training Center at Camp Croft in 
South Carolina. Early in 1942 he had been ordered, as a brigadier general, to 
command the American force which had been organized to defend New Cale- 
donia. 

On 10 December 1942 the Guadalcanal-Tulagi area assumed somewhat the 
same status as the other island commands in the South Pacific. General Har- 
mon became responsible for providing supplies for the troops. Admiral Turner 
was relieved of responsibility for defending Guadalcanal but was to retain re- 
sponsibility for transporting troops and supplies to the area. 9 General Patch was 
responsible to Admiral Halsey. His command included the Guadalcanal air- 
fields, the seaplane base at Tulagi, and the naval bases as well as the troops of 

fl COMSOPAC to CG Guadalcanal, 1228 of 8 Dec 42. SOP AC War Diary; Harmon, Army in the South 
Pacific, p. 5; Halsey, Narrative Account of the South Pacific Campaign, p. 5. 
7 CG 1 st Mar Div to COMSOPAC, 04 1 7 of 9 Dec 42. SOPAC War Diary. 
B COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 9 Dec 42. 

9 COMSOPAC to COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC, CG Guadalcanal, CG I MAC, COMNAVBAS SOPAC, 
COMINCH, CINCPAC, COMGENSOPAC, COMAIRSOPAC, COMSERONSOPAC, 0446 of 7 Dec 42. SOPAC 
War Diary. 



214 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



all services. 10 The troops were then occupying Tulagi, the adjacent islands, and 
Koli Point, Lunga Point, and the Matanikau River-Point Cruz area on Guadal- 
canal. The mission given him was clear and direct: "eliminate all Japanese 
forces" on Guadalcanal. 11 

Troop Strength 

For the Americans on Guadalcanal October and November had been pri- 
marily periods of stubborn defense interspersed with hard-fought local offen- 
sives. The first half of December was a period of transition, a time of organiza- 
tion for offensive action while reinforcements were on their way. 

Prior to the relief of the ist Marine Division American forces had included 
almost 40,000 men. 12 Although in December there were about 25,000 Japanese 
troops on Guadalcanal, the Americans were not sure of the ijth Army's precise 
strength or dispositions, 13 and there always remained the dangerous possibility 
that it might be reinforced by the nocturnal Tokyo Express. 

Prior to his assumption of command General Patch had estimated that he 
would require at least two reinforced divisions to hold the airfields, and three 
to prevent the Japanese from making any more landings. 14 But there were then 
no other divisions in the South Pacific which could be spared. The 37th Divi- 
sion, the only other complete U. S. Army division in the South Pacific except 
the Americal, was then holding the strategically important Fiji Islands and 
could not be moved. 15 The departure of the ist Marine Division reduced troop 
strength so much that no major offensives could be undertaken until the 25th 
Division arrived. The Americal Division, the 147th Infantry, the reinforced 2d 
and 8th Marines of the 2d Marine Division, and the Marine defense battalions 
were the only ground forces available to General Patch during most of Decem- 
ber, and most of these were needed to hold the ground already gained. 

Most of the remaining units of the Americal Division reached Guadal- 
canal in December. The i32d Regimental Combat Team (less the ist Battalion 
and A Battery of the 247th Field Artillery Battalion) landed on 8 December. 1 * 1 

10 Ibtd. 

11 Army in the South Pacific, p. 5. 

12 Amer Div Strength Rpt, 1 1 Dec 42. 

13 G-2, Amer Div, draft rpt to G-2, USAFISPA, in misc Itrs and memos, G— 2, Amer Div. 

11 Ltr, CG Amer Div to COMGENSOPAC, cited in USAFISPA Guadalcanal ms No. 2, Ch. VIII, p. 32. 

16 Army in the South Pacific, p. 5, 

ia COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC War Diary, 8 Dec 42. 



THE SITUATION IN DECEMBER 



2I 5 



The 2d Marine Division Signal Company and the 18th Naval Construction 
Battalion landed on 12 December, followed on 13 December by the 3d Bat- 
talion, i82d Infantry, and C Company, 2d (Marine) Engineer Battalion. The 
next day more Americal Division units landed — the Mobile Combat Recon- 
naissance Squadron, the 1st Battalion, i32d Infantry, A Battery of the 247th 
Field Artillery Battalion, and a detachment of the 39th Military Police Com- 
pany. The 221st Field Artillery Battalion did not arrive until January 1943. 
These units were inexperienced, but the 164th and i82d Regiments had seen 
heavy fighting. 

The Americal Division was a unique Army unit, for it bore a name instead 
of a number and had been activated in New Caledonia instead of on United 
States territory. The name "Americal" is a contraction of the words America 
and New Caledonia. The division, activated in May 1942, was composed of ele- 
ments of the force sent to defend New Caledonia in the early months of the war. 

Composed of infantry, artillery, and supporting units and led by General 
Patch, this task force had left the United States on 23 January 1942. After a 
short stay at Melbourne, Australia, it had reached Noumea, New Caledonia, on 
12 March, to occupy and defend that island. 17 New Caledonia, valuable as a 
military base and source of nickel, was a French colony held by the Vichy 
government during the first years of World War II until a popular uprising 
overthrew the Vichy governor and installed a member of Gen. Charles de 
Gaulle's Fighting French Forces. In co-operation with the Fighting French 
authorities, General Patch's force had organized the defense of New Cale- 
donia. 18 

The main units of the Americal Division were the i32d, 164th, and i82d 
Infantry Regiments; the 221st, 245th, 246th, and 247th Field Artillery Bat- 
talions; the 57th Engineer Combat Battalion; the 101st Quartermaster Regi- 
ment; the 101st Medical Regiment; the 26th Signal Company, and the Mobile 
Combat Reconnaissance Squadron. The division, which had been widely dis- 
persed in New Caledonia, was to operate on Guadalcanal as a complete division 
for the first time. 

The first element of the division to land on Guadalcanal was the 164th In- 
fantry, a part of the North Dakota National Guard. It was followed by a Massa- 
chusetts National Guard regiment, the i82d Infantry. The units of the Americal 

17 TF 6814 and Amcr Div, Hist Data, p. I. 

18 Although the troops had received some jungle training in New Caledonia, divisional maneuvers had not 
been possible. 




AMERICAL DIVISION REINFORCEMENTS LANDED 3 DECEMBER to bring 
Army forces in Guadalcanal to almost full division strength* These two pictures show troops 
of the i$2d Regimental Combat Team bringing ashore their weapons and equipment, in- 
cluding a mobile pigeon loft, along theKu^um beaches. 




THE SITUATION IN DECEMBER 



2I 7 



which served with the 1st Marine Division also received the Presidential Unit 
Citation. The i$2d Infantry, of the Illinois National Guard, arrived last. The 
division's artillery battalions came from the old J2d and 180th Field Artillery 
Regiments. The Mobile Combat Reconnaissance Squadron, equipped with 
jeeps, rifles, machine guns, automatic rifles, mortars, and 37-mm. antitank guns, 
was a special unit which had been organized in New Caledonia by Lt. CoL 
Alexander M. George to provide a mobile striking force to strengthen the de- 
fense of the island. 19 Guadalcanal's terrain was too rough and densely jungled 
for motorized combat units, however, and the squadron fought on foot. 

Brig. Gen. Edmund B. Sebree, then assistant division commander and soon 
to command the division, was by December a veteran of Guadalcanal. He had 
reached the island in early November, had conducted the closing phase of the 
Koli Point action, and had commanded part of the perimeter defense. On 
General Vandegrift's order he had directed the offensive of 18 November 
which, though it bogged down short of the Poha River, succeeded in establish- 
ing the American lines west of the Matanikau River. 

There were no experienced fresh troops on Guadalcanal in early December. 
The i32d Infantry was fresh but untried, and the veteran Marine and Army 
units were in little better condition than the 1st Marine Division. All were suf- 
fering from general debility, battle weariness, and malaria, and most of the 
Americal Division units were understrength. On 11 December the Americal 
Division numbered 13,169 men — 23 officers and 3,102 enlisted men below full 
strength. The i32d, 164th, and i82d Infantry Regiments, with an authorized 
strength of 3,325 men each, lacked 329, 864, and 869 men, respectively. 20 

General Harmon resorted to emergency measures to increase the strength 
of the forces on Guadalcanal. With Admiral Halsey's approval, he ordered the 
ships bearing the 25th Division from Hawaii to sail to Guadalcanal without 
reloading at New Caledonia. In doing so General Harmon knowingly took a 
risk, for, as General Marshall warned him on 7 December, shipping space had 
been too limited for combat-loading, or even unit-loading the ships before they 
left Pearl Harbor. Discharging these ships in the forward area would be dan- 
gerous. 21 But in view of General Patch's urgent need for more troops, combat- 
loading the 25th Division's ships at Noumea, where dockside congestion had 
caused a crisis, would delay the landing of the division on Guadalcanal by six 



19 Mob Combat Rccon Sq, Amcr Div, Hist, p. 1 2. 

20 Amer Div Strength Rpt, n Dec 42. 

21 Rad, WDCSA to COMGENSOPAC, 7 Dec. 42. OPD 370.5 PTO Sec. I. 



2l8 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



weeks — until early February 1943. 22 General Harmon therefore carried out his 
plan despite the dangers involved, and the 25th Division, protected by air and 
surface forces, went to Guadalcanal without taking time to reload at Noumea. 
The 35th Regimental Combat Team landed at Beach Red on 17 December; it 
was followed by the 27th Regimental Combat Team on 1 January 1943, and by 
the 161st Regimental Combat Team on 4 January. All units landed without 
loss. On 4 January 2d Marine Division headquarters and the 6th Marines, Rein- 
forced, having moved up from New Zealand, also landed, thereby bringing the 
2d Marine Division to nearly full strength. General Patch had now, in addition 
to miscellaneous units, three divisions. 

The additional duties assumed by General Patch's staff during December 
imposed heavy burdens upon it. Americal Division headquarters, the highest 
headquarters on Guadalcanal in December, had been acting as a full corps 
headquarters — acting simultaneously as island headquarters, Americal Division 
headquarters, and headquarters for part of the 2d Marine Division. To remedy 
this situation, General Harmon recommended to General Marshall that a corps 
headquarters be designated for the Guadalcanal-Tulagi area. General Marshall, 
who on 5 December had informed General Harmon that all Army Air Force 
units in the South Pacific Area were to be designated the Thirteenth Air Force, 
acceded to this request, and on 2 January 1943 General Harmon activated the 
XIV Corps. 23 The Corps consisted of the Americal and 25th Divisions, with the 
2d Marine Division and other Marine ground forces attached. 

General Patch was given the command of the XIV Corps, and General 
Sebree succeeded to command of the Americal Division. Headquarters and 
Headquarters Company, VIII Corps, then in the United States, was redesig- 
nated and assigned to the XIV Corps, and in late December Brig. Gen. Robert 
L. Spragins arrived to assume his duties as XIV Corps chief of staff. The XIV 
Corps' staff section chiefs assumed their duties on 5 January 1943, but most of 
the posts at XIV Corps headquarters were manned by Americal Division staff 
officers. The Americal Division staff section chiefs acted simultaneously for 
their division and as assistant staff section chiefs for the Corps. 24 As late as 1 
February 1943 XIV Corps headquarters proper consisted of only eleven officers 

22 Hist USAFISPA, Pt. Ill, II, 646; see also ltr, COMGENSOPAC to WDCSA, 15 Dec 42. OPD 381 
PTO Sec. Ill (12-15-42). 

23 Hist USAFISPA, Pt. I, I, 142. Prior to the activation of the XIV Corps, General Patch's command on 
Guadalcanal has been informally termed the CACTUS Corps. 

21 Interv with Col Gavan, 14 Nov 46. 



THE SITUATION IN DECEMBER 219 



Strength of American Forces at Guadalcanal, 7 January 1943* 



Unit 


Total 


Officers 


Enlisted 
men 


.- - - . .... 


50,078 


2,402 


47,676 




16,196 


837 


15,359 




2,828 


122 


2,706 




2,483 


116 


2,367 




2,638 


125 


2,513 




2,233 


81 


2,152 




542 


34 


508 


221st Field Artillery Battalion 


b 532 


"34 


»498 




521 


29 


492 




516 


34 


482 


247th Field Artillery Battalion 


482 


28 


454 




3,421 


234 


3,187 




12,629 


605 


12,024 




3,315 


139 


3,176 




3,306 


133 


3,173 




2,065 


99 


1,966 


8th Field Artillery Battalion 


572 


30 


542 




578 


30 


548 


89th Field Artillery Battalion 


566 


28 


538 




128 


10 


118 




2,099 


136 


1,963 




d l4,733 


<*657 


14,076 




3,626 


154 


3,472 




4,430 


196 


4,234 




3,605 


169 


3,436 




3,072 


138 


2,934 




1,607 


<*157 


1,450 




d 4,913 


146 


<*4,767 



s Represents effective strength of organic and attached units. Does not include strength of XIV Corps Head- 
quarters troops, data for which are not available. 

b Represents strength as of 1 February 1943- The 221st FA Battalion landed on 4 January 1943, but was not 
included in strength report for 7 January. 

c Consists chiefly of service units, headquarters troops, and miscellaneous attached .units. 

d Adjusted to correct obvious errors in source data. 

Source: XIV Corps Strength Reports for 7 January and 1 February 1943. Strength Reports — Americal 
Division, 11 December 1942-February 1943- 



and two enlisted men. The Corps was not only insufficiently staffed, but also 
lacked service troops and organic corps artillery. It used the 155-mm. guns of 
the defense battalions and the Army coast artillery battery as corps artillery. 

The arrival of reinforcements in late December and early January increased 
American strength on Guadalcanal sufficiently to make possible the opening of 



220 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



large-scale offensive operations. By 7 January 1943 Allied air, ground, and naval 
forces in the Guadalcanal area totaled about 50,000 men. The Americal Divi- 
sion numbered about 16,000; the 25th Division, 12,629; the 2d Marine Division, 



Air Power 



By December the difficulties and shortages which had limited the cam- 
paigns in the South and Southwest Pacific were partially overcome. In the 
Solomons, Allied air strength was on the increase. Control of the air and the 
sea in the southern Solomons enabled Halsey and Turner to send troops and 
supplies to Guadalcanal regularly. The number of heavy Army bombers in the 
South Pacific had increased. The veteran nth Heavy Bombardment Group 
had been operating in the theater since July, and in November it was rein- 
forced by the 5th Heavy Bombardment Group and the 12th and 44th Fighter 
Squadrons, which arrived at Espiritu Santo from Hawaii. By November forty 
B-17's of the two groups were operating in the Solomons, and General Har- 
mon released heavy bombers of the 90th Bombardment Group which he had 
been authorized to divert en route to the Southwest Pacific. On 20 October 
twin-engined Army fighter planes (P-38's) had arrived in the South Pacific, 
but not until November, when Henderson Field was safe from shell fire, could 
they be based at Guadalcanal. When heavy bombers from Henderson Field 
raided Buin on 18 November, P-38's escorted the B-i/s all the way for the 
first time. 

Unfortunately the B-i/s frequently had to be diverted from bombardment 
to patrol missions. The Navy's twin-engined flying boats (PBY's) were too vul- 
nerable to enemy attack. 26 The B-i7's, on the other hand, could patrol over 
long stretches of water, locate enemy convoys, and beat off attacking Japanese 
fighter planes. The effectiveness of heavy bombers was also diminished by the 
fact that most fixed enemy objectives lay beyond the range of bombers based at 
Espiritu Santo. The heavy bombers when not flying patrol missions were usually 
limited to the bombardment of shipping and thus did not meet with conspicu- 

26 XIV Corps Strength Rpt, 7 Jan 43, in Amer Div Strength Rpt. Figures in the Corps report, incorrectly 
totaled, have been corrected. The Corps' report does not show the 221st Field Artillery Battalion, which landed 
on 4 January 1943. As strength figures for this battalion for 7 January 1943 have not yet been found, those 
for 1 February 1943 have been used to reach the approximately correct figure. 

26 Guadalcanal and the Thirteenth Air Force, p. 78. The Navy's more powerful PE^Y's were not to reach 
the South Pacific until 1943. 



THE SITUATION IN DECEMBER 



221 



ous success as compared with the dive bombers and torpedo bombers which the 
Navy had designed for just such work. A sustained air offensive against the 
enemy in the northern Solomons could not be mounted until a strong bomber 
force was permanently based at Henderson Field, 

Allied air power on Guadalcanal had greatly increased since the grim days 
in October. On 23 November General Vandegrift reported that eighty-four 
U. S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Royal New Zealand Air Force planes 
were operating from Guadalcanal. By 29 November there were 188 aircraft of 
all types. 27 By December the 1st Marine Air Wing included Marine Air Group 
14, with elements of the 12th, 68th, and 339th Fighter Squadrons and of the 
70th Medium Bombardment Squadron (equipped with B-26's) of the Army 
Air Forces attached. The advance elements of Brig. Gen. Francis P. Mulcahy's 
2d Marine Air Wing, which was to relieve the 1st Wing, arrived on 26 De- 
cember. 

By December, in spite of all difficulties, air and naval power had almost, 
but not completely, isolated the Japanese on Guadalcanal. The Tokyo Express 
could slip through on occasion, but the island's air forces limited its trips. Allied 
air power was also able to prevent Japanese aircraft from successfully attacking 
ground installations in force during daylight and from using aircraft for day- 
light reconnaissance. 28 

Henderson Field was in fair condition by December. Although its opera- 
tional facilities were still crude, it could support the efficient operation of eighty 
planes. On returning to the United States after his tour of duty as commander 
of land-based aircraft in the South Pacific, Admiral McCain had recommended 
building gasoline storage tanks with a minimum capacity of half a million 
gallons. He had recommended storage tanks with a million-gallon capacity if 
Guadalcanal was to be used as a base for further advances, 29 and by December 
construction of storage tanks with that capacity had begun. 30 Henderson Field 
could be used in all weathers. By 10 January steel mats had been laid over 
320,750 square feet of runway but 600,000 square feet remained without mats. 
Fighter Strip No. 1, east of Henderson, was being regraded in December but 
1,800,000 square feet of matting were required. 31 It was later to serve Navy and 

27 CG 1st Mar Div to COMSOPAC, 2156 of 23 Nov 42; 2328 of 29 Nov 42. SOPAC War Diary. 

28 Amer Div Int Rpt, p. 3. 
28 JPS Minutes, 9 Oct 42. 

30 CINCPAC, Solomons Campaign, 30 Nov 42 to 4—5 Jan 43. 

31 Rad, Guadalcanal to COMAIRSOPAC, 10 Jan 43, XIV Corps G-3 Journal; Guadalcanal and the Thir- 
teenth Air Force, p. 164. 



222 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Marine Corps aircraft. The coral-surfaced Fighter Strip No. 2 southwest of 
Kukum was nearly complete by the end of December. It was to furnish U. S. 
Army and Royal New Zealand Air Force pilots with an excellent runway. At 
Koli Point naval construction forces, unhindered by enemy ground forces, had 
nearly completed the bomber strip, Carney Field. 32 

The daylight air attacks, naval shellings, and artillery fire that had pounded 
Henderson Field so heavily in October were over, although harassing air raids 
continued to take place at night. Antiaircraft guns of the Marine Corps defense 
battalions and, until its relief, of the 1st Special Weapons Battalion defended 
the airstrips. Automatic weapons ranging in size from .30-caliber water-cooled 
antiaircraft machine guns to 20-mm. and 37-mm. antiaircraft guns beat off 
strafers and dive bombers, and 90-mm. guns and searchlights defended the field 
against high-level bombers. 

One of the features of the campaign was the nightly nuisance attacks by 
the Japanese planes, which the troops called "Louie the Louse," or from the 
engines' sound, "Washingmachine Charley" and "Maytag Charley." Charley 
bombed at random and caused little damage, but the bombs forced the troops to 
take cover in dugouts and foxholes, losing sleep and exposing themselves to 
malarial mosquitoes. Charley was a difficult target for the antiaircraft guns 
since he usually flew high and maneuvered violently when searchlights and 
guns went into action. Night fighting, radar-equipped planes, which would 
have been effective against him, were not to reach the South Pacific until late 
in February 1943. On several occasions air forces and antiaircraft batteries suc- 
cessfully co-ordinated fighter attacks with searchlight illumination. 

The long-range radar used on Guadalcanal, the SCR 270, functioned fairly 
well, although the antiaircraft batteries' fire control radar, the SCR 268, was 
too primitive for accurate fire control. The coastwatching stations supple- 
mented radar to warn the Lunga area of approaching enemy planes, for the 
enemy occasionally attacked Lunga Point from the south and southwest over 
the mountains which screened the planes from radar beams. 

T he American Situation on Guadalcanal 

The area of Guadalcanal which was held by American troops in December 
was not much greater than that captured in the assault landing. The Lunga 

32 Rad, CG Guadalcanal to COMAIRSOPAC, 13 Dec 42. Amer Div G-3 Journal. 



THE SITUATION IN DECEMBER 



223 



perimeter had been enlarged in the November offensive to include the Matani- 
kau River and the area west to Point Cruz. By December the American lines 
extended from Point Cruz south to Hill 66, from there were refused east across 
the Matanikau River, and joined the old Lunga perimeter line east of the river. 
At Koli Point Colonel Tuttle's 147th Infantry, the 9th (Marine) Defense Bat- 
talion, and the naval construction battalion had established a perimeter defense. 

Tulagi, Gavutu, and Tanambogo, successfully stormed on 7-8 August, were 
in American hands. The Japanese had shelled and bombed these islands but 
had directed all their ground assaults against Henderson Field. Tulagi Harbor 
provided a good anchorage for warships and transports. American patrols from 
Tulagi regularly visited Florida Island across the channel from Guadalcanal, 
to check on possible enemy forces. 

The fundamental importance of health and supply in the American situa- 
tion on Guadalcanal had not diminished. But by December supply had greatly 
improved over that of the early days, and a major crisis at Noumea had been 
surmounted. In November, a break-down in the handling of incoming ships at 
Noumea threatened to cut off supplies for the Army troops on Guadalcanal. 
The South Pacific Amphibious Force was already short of ships, and with the 
torpedoing of the Alchiba off Guadalcanal in November Admiral Halsey re- 
ported that only four undamaged cargo ships were left in the South Pacific 
Force. 33 At Noumea the increased flow of supplies and troops from the United 
States had resulted in a serious congestion of the harbor, where 91 vessels 
carrying 180,000 tons of cargo were waiting to be unloaded. Eighty-three of the 
vessels carried supplies and equipment which were to be trans-shipped to the 
New Hebrides and to Guadalcanal. Noumea, like the few other partially devel- 
oped ports in the South Pacific, lacked enough men, equipment, and storage 
and berthing space to unload the ships. Army, Navy, and Marine Corp units 
had formerly each handled their own supplies, but in late November Admiral 
Halsey suggested that the Army assume responsibility for loading and unload- 
ing ships at Noumea. The Army took over the task immediately. In November 
34,327 long tons of cargo had been discharged at Noumea, and in December the 
amount rose to 126,216 long tons. Cargo shipments to Guadalcanal, which had 
totaled 5,259 long tons in November, increased to 7,271 long tons in December. 34 

Once supplies reached Guadalcanal, however, further difficulties arose. In 
the absence of docks, all supplies had to be unloaded from ships standing off- 

83 COMSOPAC to CINCPAC, 0841 of 30 Nov 42. SOPAC War Diary. 
34 Hist USAFISPA, Pt. Ill, II, 645-48. 




SUPPLY TROUBLES were accentuated by lac% of men and equipment to handle incoming 
shipments of materiel. At Guadalcanal (above) all spare troops were \ept busy manhandling 
supplies from barges to the beach. The rear area supply center at Noumea, Mew Caledonia, 
became overburdened and crates were stacked wherever space could be found, 




THE SITUATION IN DECEMBER 



225 



shore, lightered to the beaches, unloaded, reloaded on trucks and hauled inland 
to the dispersed dumps. Since the shortage of shipping space stripped units 
traveling to Guadalcanal of much of their motor transport there were never 
enough trucks. As the number of service troops was also inadequate, combat 
troops as well as native laborers were forced to handle cargo, a duty for which 
the combat soldiers showed a marked lack of enthusiasm. As General Patch 
wrote, combat troops were "apathetic toward labor." 35 

Moreover, poor roads hindered the movement of supplies inland. Engineers 
and pioneers of the 1st Marine Division had built roads and some bridges, and 
the 57th Engineer Battalion was continuing the work. Known before the war 
as Government Track, the coast road served as the main route between the Ilu 
River and Point Cruz. An additional road net served Henderson Field and the 
infantry positions to the south. The marines had begun a jeep trail southwest 
from the perimeter toward Mount Austen; the 57th Engineers were to com- 
plete this trail, over which supplies for the forthcoming attack on Mount 
Austen were to be carried. A permanent motor bridge enabled heavy vehicles 
using the coast road to cross the Matanikau. The coast road supplied the troops 
near Point Cruz, while jeeps carried supplies to Hill 66 on a trail leading over 
Hills 73 and 72. 

These roads, which rain turned into mudholes, were never completely ade- 
quate even in dry weather for the supply of front-line units. Before the Ameri- 
can invasion no real motor roads had existed. The Japanese had hacked trails 
through the jungle but many had been obliterated by the trees and under- 
growth. When American troops advanced, the engineers would build supply 
roads behind them, but since they were muddy and narrow, small supply 
dumps, widely dispersed as a protection against bombing and shell fire, were 
situated well forward. Jeeps and hand-carriers usually brought supplies to the 
units in the front lines. Despite these efforts, American troops in January were 
frequently to outrun their supplies and in some instances were even to fight for 
considerable periods without water. 

Malaria, too, affected operations. By December 1942 the problem of malaria 
control had not been solved, nor was it to be solved until after the campaign. 
Malaria, the greatest single factor reducing the effectiveness of South Pacific 
troops, caused five times as many casualties as enemy action in the South Pa- 
cific. No malaria control personnel had been permitted on Guadalcanal until 

,R Ltr, CG XI V Corps to COMSOPAC, 20 Jan 43, quoted in ibid., 650. 




BRIDGES AND ROADS in Guadalcanal were virtually non-existent when American forces 
landed. Engineers used native materials, supplemented by imported materials (above) to put 
a permanent bridge over the Matani\au River, but were unable to do much about jungle 
roads (below) when it rained. 




THE SITUATION IN DECEMBER 



227 



mid-November. The island had been occupied almost a year before sufficient 
aerosol dispensers and insect repellent were available. Quinine was scarce ; sup- 
pressive atabrine treatment had been inaugurated but had not halted the spread 
of the disease. Many men swallowed atabrine tablets reluctantly if at all. Many 
falsely believed that it was poisonous, that it caused sexual impotence, or that it 
stained the skin permanently. Little had been done to check the breeding of 
mosquitoes. The natives were all heavily infected, as were the Japanese. Each 
rain filled the numerous swamps, streams, lagoons, craters, and foxholes, and 
provided ideal breeding areas for mosquitoes. Malaria discipline had been lax 
in all units. 30 

Of the ineffective troops in the Army units on Guadalcanal, nearly 65 per- 
cent were put out of action by disease as compared with about 25 percent 
wounded in action. 37 The rate of malaria per 1,000 men per year for units of 
all services on Guadalcanal was high. It rose from 14 cases per 1,000 in August 
to 1,664 P er I ? 000 * n October, 1,781 in November, 972 in December, and 1,169 
in January 1943. 88 The hospital admission rate from malaria in Army units 
alone on Guadalcanal from 1 November 1942 to 13 February 1943 averaged 420 
admissions per 1,000 men per year. 39 

The Japanese Situation 

As the American situation on Guadalcanal improved, the enemy's situation 
correspondingly deteriorated. By piecemeal commitment the Japanese had dis- 
sipated their air, surface, and troop strength. Hard fighting with Americans of 
all services had cost the enemy dearly, as had his own lack of perception, dem- 
onstrated by repeated attacks, without sufficient artillery support, against supe- 
rior forces. Malnutrition and disease exacted a heavy toll from the enemy on 
Guadalcanal. 

The Japanese Army command in the South Pacific was altered in Decem- 
ber when a higher headquarters than that of the ijth Army moved into Ra- 
baul. On the orders of Imperial General Headquarters, Gen. Hitoshi Imamura, 
commanding the 8th Area Army, left Java for Rabaul to assume command of 

" Ibid., pp. 618-28. See also Col Dale G. Friend, Rpts, in ioist Med Regt Hist and Rpts, in SGO Files. 
aT SGO, ASF Monthly Prog Rpt, Sec. 7: Health, Jan 45, p. 16. 

38 Hist USAFISPA, Pt. Ill, II, 632. See also WD Tech Bull Med 6, 15 Jan 44, "Data from Field on Malaria 
Control." 

"Health, Jan 45, p. 18. 



228 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



army operations. General Imamura reached Rabaul on 2 December 1942 and 
was followed later by his army* 40 On Guadalcanal the forward echelon of ijth 
Army Headquarters continued to direct operations. General Hyakutake, the 
army commander, and his staff remained on the island until February 1943. 41 

In December, the lyth Army kept the bulk of its combat forces between 
Point Cruz and Cape Esperance, while patrols covered the south coast. The 
Japanese front lines extended from the Point Cruz area to the high ground 
about 4,500 yards inland, curving east about 3,000 yards to include Mount 
Austen. The only Japanese troops east of the Lunga in December were strag- 
glers. On the island were the remnants of General Maruyama's 2d Division, 
General Sano's 38th Division, and the Kawaguchi and Ichi\i Forces. Maj. Gen. 
Takeo Ito, Infantry Group commander of the 38th Division, commanded 
about 1,000 troops of the 124th and 228th Infantry Regiments and supporting 
units on an inland line extending from Mount Austen to a point about 3,000 
yards west. Of this force, Maj. Takeyosho Inagaki with the 2d Battalion, 228th 
Infantry, occupied the northeast slopes of Mount Austen. Colonel Oka, with 
part of the 124th Infantry and other units, held the center of the line between 
Mount Austen and the Matanikau, while Col. Masaichi Suemura commanded 
the 1 st and 3d Battalions of the 228th Infantry on the high ground west of the 
Matanikau. In the coastal area, part of the 2d Division, operating occasionally 
under 38th Division command, and units of the latter division faced the Ameri- 
cans along the Point Cruz-Hill 66 line, while the rest of the 2d Division was 
concentrated farther west. 42 In early December the Americans were not com- 
pletely aware of Japanese strength and dispositions on Guadalcanal, especially 
on Mount Austen and the hills to the west. 

Japanese troop strength had declined from the peak of 30,000 men, reached 
briefly in November, to average about 25,000 in December. Almost no rein- 
forcements had arrived since the 38th Division survivors had come ashore from 
their blazing transports on 15 November. During the entire campaign about 
33,600 troops of the jyth Army and 3,100 of the Special Naval Landing Forces 

10 USSBS, Allied Campaign Against Rabaul, p. 9. This source occasionally calls Imamura's command the 
8th Group Army, iytk Army Opns, I, states that Headquarters, 8th Area Army reached Rabaul on 22 Novem- 
ber. 

11 ijth Army Opns, I, II. Many Allied sources affirm that Hyakutake left the island well before February. 
According to the XIV Corps and Americal Division's intelligence reports, Maruyama directed operations in 
Hyakutake's absence. 

* z 17th Army Opns, I; USAFISPA, Japanese Campaign in the Guadalcanal Area, p. 31 ; XIV Corps, Enemy 
Opns, p. 5; Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab B. 



THE SITUATION IN DECEMBER 



229 



saw action on the island at various times, 43 In December the Americans under- 
estimated the total strength of the Japanese on Guadalcanal; their estimates 
varied from 9,100 to i6,ooo. 44 But all Japanese units were understrength, and 
many soldiers were unfit for duty. 

In all sectors the enemy, incapable of offensive action, had dug in for de- 
fense. The front-line troops especially were in poor physical condition. The 
increasing shortage of supplies had reduced rations to a bare minimum, to less 
than one-third the regular daily allowance, 45 Stealing of food was common. As 
the few supplies which were brought in were usually landed near Cape Espe- 
rance and carried by hand to the front, rear-area troops fared best. Front-line 
troops were often reduced to eating coconuts, grass, roots, ferns, bamboo 
sprouts, and what wild potatoes they could find. 46 There are even a few ap- 
parent instances of cannibalism on Mount Austen. 47 

But hunger was not the only serious problem. If malaria decimated the 
American ranks, it caused havoc among the enemy. Among the Japanese prob- 
ably every man was a victim. They had no systematic malaria control, few 
mosquito nets, and inadequate field hospitals. While American troops operated 
and bivouacked on high open ground whenever possible, the enemy's need for 
security from air attack made him travel, bivouac, and fight in the jungles, where 
the Anopheles mosquito breeds in the sluggish streams and swamps. According 
to enemy figures, of 21,500 casualties, 9,000 died of disease — malaria, malnutri- 
tion, beri-beri, and dysentery. 48 Illness and malnutrition weakened the troops so 
much that late in the campaign one Japanese officer is reported to have classi- 
fied his men in three groups: those who could move and fight, those who 

48 ijth Army figures arc taken from ijth Army Opns, II, and from the interrog of Maruyama, Miyazaki, 
Konuma, and Tajima; those of the Special Naval Landing Forces are derived from a table, attached to the latter 
interrogation, prepared by the ist Demob Bureau. 

"Sec G-2, Amer Div, draft rpt to G-2, USAFISPA; Jtr, Lt Col W. D. Long to Lt Col E. J. Buckley 
(D-2, ist Mar Div), 21 Mar 43, G-2, Amer Div, misc ltrs and memos; ist Mar Div Rpt, V, Annex Y. 

4G ijth Army Opns, T; Miyazaki, Personal Account, p. 14. 

46 CINCPOA, Weekly Intelligence, 25 Dec 42: Japanese Medical Problems in the South and Southwest 
Pacific, in MIS Library, Dept of the Army. 

47 Interv with Col Stanley R. Larsen, 19 Aug 46. Colonel Larsen commanded the 2d Battalion, 35th 
Infantry, on Mount Austen and saw butchered corpses. See-also statements by Col R. B. McClurc (CO, 35th 
Inf), 20 Jan 43; Lt Col James L. Dalton, II, 31 Jan 43; Maj Lome S. Ward, 29 Jan 43; and Lt Col Stuart F. 
Crawford, (G-2, 25th Div), in 25th Div FO's, in misc USAFISPA docs in files of Hist Div, SSUSA. 

48 1st Demob Bureau table, attached to interrog of Hyakutake, et al. sytk Army Opns, II, gives figures 
which substantially agree, but shows the total dead as 21,600. Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab B, gives 27,000 enemy 
dead; Japanese Medical Problems, p. 1 1, estimates that 2 /$ of enemy deaths were caused by illness; XIV Corps, 
Enemy Opns, gives larger figures — 42,554 committed; 24,330 killed; 3,000 evacuated; 14,724 died of wounds 
or sickness. 



230 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



could fight only from emplacements, and those who could not fight at all. 49 In 
several instances when hospitals moved west during the retreats in January and 
February the medical personnel apparently evacuated only ambulatory patients. 
That the others were left behind to die or be captured was indicated by the fact 
that American troops, during the January offensives, were to find numbers of 
unwounded enemy corpses in abandoned hospital sites. 

The Japanese troops lacked food because air and naval power had almost 
completely isolated them from their bases. They could not use transports for 
supply and reinforcements. 50 The nocturnal Tokyo Express was able to bring 
in only a scattering of supplies and reinforcements. The Express made about 
eleven trips to Guadalcanal between 16 November 1942 and 9 February 1943, 
and lost ten destroyers sunk and nineteen damaged in the process. 61 To deliver 
food to Guadalcanal, the Japanese at Rabaul packed rice in empty gasoline 
drums, roped fifty together, and loaded four of these 50-drum bundles on the 
deck of each destroyer. The destroyers would then sail down the Slot, arrive at 
Cape Esperance at night, and throw the drums overboard to float in with the 
morning tide. Destroyers transported over 20,000 drums, but the troops ashore 
recovered less than 30 percent. Some were destroyed on the coral reefs, the 
ropes often broke, and Allied fliers on dawn patrol strafed them whenever pos- 
sible. When the drum method failed the Japanese tried supply by submarine, 
but with little success. 52 According to former ijth Army officers, the Japanese 
on Guadalcanal not only failed to receive the greater part of their heavy equip- 
ment, but also lost all but 10 percent of their ammunition. 53 

Thus it was impossible for the Japanese to undertake offensive operations. 
Not only were the soldiers too weak, but ammunition stocks were too low. 
Enemy artillery lacked shells to hit Henderson Field, and Allied aircraft and 
counterbattery artillery made the extensive use of artillery dangerous. 

Farther north, however, enemy activity was increasing. After their failure 
to retake the Lunga airfields in November, the Japanese had begun to build an 
airfield at Munda Point on New Georgia, just 207 miles from Henderson Field. 
It was so well camouflaged that it was not discovered by the Americans until 
3 December. Despite almost daily attacks by aircraft, the field was completed by 

4 * Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab A, Enemy Opns. 

60 Miyazaki, Personal Account, p. 13. 

61 Amer Div Int Rpt, p. 3. 

88 Miyazaki, Personal Account, p. 13. 
M 7rf Demob Bureau, Table II. 



THE SITUATION IN DECEMBER 



29 December. Thereafter Guadalcanal-based aircraft struck it regularly to pre- 
vent its fighters escorting the Tokyo Express or intercepting Allied bombing 
formations bound for the Shortlands and Bougainville, and to discourage its 
bombers from attacking the Lunga airfields. 54 

An Allied victory on Guadalcanal seemed to be assured by December, but 
only at the cost of more hard fighting. Though weak from hunger and disease, 
the Japanese were not disposed to surrender and were to continue to fight with 
bravery and skill. 

64 Guadalcanal and the Thirteenth Air Force, p. 164; Joint Hq, 5th and nth Bomb Gps (H), Periodic 
Int Rpt, 1-31 Dec 42, in nth Bomb Gp Hist. 



CHAPTER X 

The December Offensive 



Although the lack of sufficient troops limited American capabilities, De- 
cember was not without some bitter fighting. As a preliminary to a corps offen- 
sive, American troops began a small offensive designed to capture Mount 
Austen. The necessity for capturing the mountain had been recognized even 
before the Marine landing. General Vandegrift had originally planned to cap- 
ture it together with Lunga Point. He had changed his plans on the discovery 
that Mount Austen was much farther from Lunga Point than the first maps 
had indicated. Lacking sufficient troops, he had never tried to hold it perma- 
nently. General Harmon had always maintained that Henderson Field would 
not be secure until the mountain was in American hands. In November he had 
asked General Vandegrift when he intended to take it; the Marine commander 
replied, according to Harmon, that he would take it at the earliest opportunity. 

Mount Austen, 15-30 December 

Plans for the XIV Corps Offensive 

The capture of Mount Austen was a necessary prelude to a full-scale corps 
offensive against the Japanese west of the Matanikau. In early December Ad- 
miral Halsey, stating that it would not be possible to "predict the ability of our 
naval surface forces and air to satisfactorily interdict the operation of Jap sub- 
marines and the Tokyo Express into Guadalcanal . . . ," ordered General Har- 
mon to take action necessary to eliminate all Japanese forces on the island. 1 
This order gave General Harmon, temporarily, direct authority over tactical 
operations which he had not previously possessed, for as commander of U. S. 
Army Forces in the South Pacific he had only administrative authority. In 
effect, Admiral Halsey had informally deputed to him part of his own tactical 
authority within a limited area. General Patch's authority over his troops was 

1 Army in the South Pacific, p. 5. 



THE DECEMBER OFFENSIVE 



2 33 



not limited or affected in any way. He was to direct operations on Guadalcanal 
subject to the direction of Harmon, who was acting for Halsey. 

General Harmon immediately flew to Guadalcanal to con fer with G eneral 



Patch. Patch planned to capture Mount Austen immediately. \(Map X)| Once 
that mountain had been taken and sufficient forces had been assembled, two 
divisions would attack westward while a third division defended the airfields. 
While one of the attacking divisions swung over Mount Austen and the hill 
masses south of Hill 66 to outflank the Japanese, the other would resume the 
coastal push from the Hill 66-Point Cruz line. The flanking movement would 
extend the American line west of the Matanikau an additional 3,000 yards in- 
land. The two divisions would continue attacking westward to trap and destroy 
the Japanese. General Harmon gave his approval to this plan. 

Planners also discussed the possibility of sending amphibious expeditions 
around Cape Esperance to land on the south coast in the enemy's rear, block 
the trail that ran from Kokumbona over the mountains to Beaufort Bay, and 
to advance west toward the cape. But these bold shore-to-shore movements 
could not be executed until more landing craft could be assembled. 2 
Terrain and Intelligence 

Mount Austen, a spur of Guadalcanal's main mountain range, juts north- 
ward between the Matanikau and Lunga Rivers toward Lunga Point. The 
1,514-foot summit lies about six miles southwest of Henderson Field and domi- 
nates the surrounding area. It provided the enemy with an excellent observation 
post from which to survey activity at Lunga Point — traffic at Henderson Field 
and the fighter strips, unloading of ships, and troop movements. Just as the 
coastwatchers radioed information on enemy movements to the Allied forces, 
so Japanese observers could warn their northern bases when bombers left Hen- 
derson Field. From the hill they could see the American areas west of the 
Matanikau, and over the hills west of the mountain into Kokumbona, 9,000 
yards to the northwest. 8 

Mount Austen, where the Japanese were to make their strongest defensive 
effort of the campaign, is not a single peak, but the apex of a confusing series 
of steep, rocky, jungled ridges. The main ridge forming the summit rises 

2 Information on plans in December is derived from: Ltr, Lt Col W. D. Long to Col Buckley; Ltr, 
COMGENSOPAC to WDCSA, 15 Dec 42. OPD 381 PTO Sec. Ill (12-15-42); interv with Col Gavan. See 
also hr } CTF 62 to COMSOPAC, 2 Nov 42, sub: Outline Plan TF 62 Opns Subsequent to 3 Nov 42, Ser 00353 
FE 25 A4-3, in files of Hist Sec, Hq, USMC. 

8 Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab A, Enemy Opns; 35th Inf Journal, 8 Jan 43, in misc USAFISPA docs. 



MOUNT AUSTEN'S DOMINANT POSITION over the Lunga Perimeter and the hills to 
the west made its capture vital to the American plan. Towering over Henderson Field 
(above), it was also a good vantage point from which the enemy could watch troop move- 
ments westward from the Matam^au line ( below). 



THE DECEMBER OFFENSIVE 



235 



abruptly out of the foothills about two miles south of the shore, and east of the 
Matanikau River. Aerial photographs do not always give a clear picture of 
Mount Austen, for a dense forest covers the summit and much of the foothill 
area is covered by grass. The bare, grassy spaces are not separate hills, though 
for identification they were assigned numbers. No ridge is usually visible in a 
single vertical aerial photograph. The actual summit appears to be lower than 
the open, grassy areas. Hill 27, a separate rocky mound, 920 feet high, lies south- 
west of the summit. The crest rises just above the surrounding treetops, and is 
barely visible. Hill 31, a grassy area about 750 yards north of Hill 27, overlooks 
Lunga Point. 

Fifteen hundred yards northwest of Mount Austen, across a deep gorge cut 
by the Matanikau, lies another hill mass (Hills 43 and 44)- A third hill mass 
(Hills 55-54-50-51-52-53-57), about 900 feet high, lies just north of the first, 
and is clearly visible from Mount Austen. As General Patch intended to move 
one division over these hill masses in the southwesterly envelopment, it was 
first necessary to capture Mount Austen to deny it to the enemy, and to locate 
and partially roll up his east flank. 

In late November and early December it was thought that the Japanese were 
not holding Mount Austen in strength. Patrols from the i32d Infantry, which 
was to attack Mount Austen, had confirmed the negative reports by earlier 
patrols from the 8th Marines and the i82d Infantry. 4 By 15 December, General 
Patch had reason to change this view. Intelligence reports indicated that the 
enemy might be building up strength in the south, and that he might attack in 
force from the south or raid the airfields. 5 On 12 December a night-raiding 
party had managed to steal through the lines to destroy one P-39 and a gas 
truck on Fighter Strip No. 2. 6 Two days later the i32d Infantry regimental 
intelligence officer, four other officers, thirty-five enlisted men, and ten native 
bearers reconnoitered Mount Austen's northwest slopes. Pushing east, they met 
fire from a force estimated to include one rifle platoon, four machine guns, and 
one or two mortars. Receiving orders by radio, the patrol withdrew. On his 
return to the Lunga perimeter the intelligence officer directed artillery fire on 
the enemy positions. From the patrol's experience it was concluded that the 
enemy had occupied Mount Austen. On 15 and 16 December the patrol went 
up Mount Austen's eastern slopes and reported finding only abandoned Japa- 



* Amer Div Narrative of Opns, p. 5. 

5 Asst Div Comdr, Amer Div } memo, 15 Dec 42. Amer Div G-3 Journal. 
e Guadalcanal and the Thirteenth Air Force, p. 161. 




SUPPLY MOVEMENT TO MOUNT AUSTEN was accomplished by groups of native 
bearers called the "Cannibal Battalion" (above) and over Wright Road. Photographed from 
Hill 39 in January /p^j, the road is seen winding northward to the coast. Florida Island is 
on the right horizon. 




THE DECEMBER OFFENSIVE 



237 



nese positions. 7 It had not found the enemy, who may have been lying quiet, 
unwilling to disclose his position. 8 

The commanders on Guadalcanal were not fully aware of the extent of the 
enemy's strength on Mount Austen. Colonel Oka's force, including under- 
strength battalions from the 124th and 228th Infantry Regiments, and the 10th 
Mountain Artillery Regiment, were then holding positions which extended to 
the northeast slopes of Mount Austen, and were concentrated in a 1,500-yard- 
long pillbox line west of the summit on a curved ridge lying between Hills 31 
and 27. Supply and evacuation posed difficult problems for the Americans, but 
for the Japanese they were almost insoluble. They had to depend exclusively 
upon hand-carriers for rations and ammunition, and received a negligible quan- 
tity. There is no evidence to show that Oka's troops were ever reinforced after 
the i32d Infantry attacked. Most of the enemy wounded were apparently not 
hospitalized; they either fought on or died in their foxholes and pillboxes. The 
battalions of the 124th and 228th Regiments had been on Guadalcanal for 
periods ranging from several weeks to three months; they had been affected by 
battle weariness, malnutrition, and disease. 
Plans for Taking Mount Austen 

By 16 December General Patch was ready to inaugurate preparations for 
the corps offensive in January by seizing Mount Austen. He ordered the i32d 
Infantry to occupy Mount Austen at once. 9 The operation was to be conducted 
under the control of the west sector commander, Col. John M. Arthur, USMC, 
who reported directly to General Patch. 10 The I32d Infantry, commanded by 
Col. LeRoy E, Nelson, had landed on Guadalcanal on 8 December, and was 
completely new to combat. The 3d Battalion, Lt. Col. William C. Wright com- 
manding, was to lead the attack. Lt. Col. Earl F. Ripstra's 1st Battalion (less D 
Company) was to follow in reserve. The 2d Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. 
George F. Ferry, was to remain in the Lunga perimeter defense. 

Artillery support for the operation was to be provided initially by the 
105-mm. howitzers of the 246th Field Artillery Battalion and the 75-mm. pack 
howitzers of the 2d Battalion, 10th Marines. Ample additional artillery support 
was available if needed. On 11 December 1942 there were twenty-eight 75-mm. 

7 1 3 2d Inf Unit Rcpts, 15, 16, 17 Dec 42. Amer Div G— 3 Journal. 

9 Interv with Col Gavan. 

B Amer Div Opn Memo, 16 Dec 42. Amer Div G-3 Journal; 132c! Inf Opn Memo No. 3, 16 Dec 42, in 
1 3 2tl Inf Msgs and Ords. No divisional field order has been found. 

10 Interv with Col Gavan. 



2 S 8 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



pack howitzers, thirty-six 105-mm. howitzers, twelve 155-mm. howitzers, and 
six 155-mm. guns belonging to the Americal Division and attached units in the 
Lunga area. 11 The Marine Corps battalion moved its pack howitzers to the 
northwest slopes of Mount Austen, inside the perimeter defense, while Lt. Col. 
Alexander R. Sewall's 246th Field Artillery Battalion occupied the positions 
near Fighter Strip No. 2 that it had taken over from the 5th Battalion, nth 
Marines. The 246th's positions were much farther from Mount Austen than 
those of the marines. The two battalions later fired some "Time on Target" 
(TOT) concentrations. To surprise the enemy troops and achieve the maxi- 
mum possible destruction by having all initial rounds hit the target simulta- 
neously, each battalion subtracted its shells' time of flight from the time its 
shells were to hit the target and fired its howitzers on the second indicated. 12 
This was probably one of the earliest occasions during World War II when 
American artillerymen employed TOT in combat, although it should be em- 
phasized that this was not a divisional artillery TOT. 

To meet the difficulties of supply and evacuation, the 57th Engineer Bat- 
talion was building the rough, slippery, jeep track up the mountain from the 
coast road. By 20 December the engineers had reached Hill 35, about five miles 
southwest of Lunga Point. The 60-degree incline of Hill 35 slowed the engi- 
neers, for they then had no heavy equipment and only 40 percent of their 
authorized dump trucks. Jeeps were to carry supplies forward from the coast 
road to the terminus of the mountain road, from which available soldiers and 
the "Cannibal Battalion" of native bearers were to hand-carry supplies forward. 
Preliminary Operations 

The Mount Austen operation was opened on 17 December with a recon- 
naissance in force to the northeast slopes by L Company of the I32d Infantry, 
reinforced by about a hundred men from K Company. Patrols from these com- 
panies reported finding no Japanese. 13 Early on 18 December L Company 
marched up the road again ahead of the 3d Battalion's main body to the ter- 



minus at Hill ^ \{Map X1)\ L Company advanced about 1,000 yards southwest 
from Hill 35, then swung left (southeast) to enter the jungle on the crest of 
the mountain. Patrols from L Company had pushed about 500 yards into the 
jungle by 0930, when fire from hidden enemy riflemen and machine gunners 

11 Amer Div Arty Strength Rpt, 1 1 Dec 42. 

" Ltr, Lt Col Donald R. Tarn (former S-3, 246th FA Bn) to author, 21 Apr 46. Colonel Tarn could not 
remember the date of the TOT. 

18 132a 1 Inf Unit Rpt, 18 Dec 42. 



THE DECEMBER OFFENSIVE 



239 



forced them to take cover. Unable to see the enemy, the company awaited the 
arrival of the main body which joined it at 1130. At Colonel Wright's request 
the supporting artillery put fire on the suspected enemy position in front of the 
3d Battalion, which did not close with the enemy. The battalion suffered only 
one casualty on 18 December, a shoulder wound. The troops were worn out, 
however, by the hard climb in the heat. 14 After the artillery fire the 3d Bat- 
talion killed three enemy soldiers, then established a perimeter defense just inside 
the jungle. 15 

The i32d Infantry continued to underestimate the strength of the enemy 
defenses. On 18 December, for example, it estimated that a determined west- 
ward advance by two battalions would drive the Japanese into the Matanikau 
River. 16 That this estimate was overly optimistic was soon to be demonstrated. 

Three dive bombers (SBD's) bombed and strafed the enemy areas from 
0725 to 0735 on 19 December; this was followed by a 5-minute artillery concen- 
tration 400 yards in front of the 3d Battalion. Colonel Wright and a three-man 
artillery liaison party from the 246th Field Artillery Battalion then reconnoi- 
tered west into the jungle in front of the 3d Battalion. About 0930 Colonel 
Wright, who was wearing his insignia of rank, was struck by enemy machine- 
gun fire. The three artillerymen stayed with him to administer first aid, but the 
enemy machine guns prevented medical aid men from reaching the colonel 
and halted all efforts to carry him to safety. He died from loss of blood shortly 
after noon, whereupon the artillerymen crawled back to the 3d Battalion's lines. 

When Colonel Wright fell, the battalion executive officer, Lt. Col. Louis L. 
Franco, assumed command. At the time he took over the battalion he was 
1,000 yards back with the rear echelon and unable to exercise control. The 
battalion, temporarily without a leader, was partly disorganized 17 and, in the 
words of one observer, its operations were "obscure." 18 

When Colonel Franco reached the front he organized the efforts of the 
battalion. Late in the afternoon he sent forward a combat patrol under the 
regimental intelligence officer. The patrol was guided by the artillery liaison 
party. Covered by the patrol's fire, the artillerymen crawled forward, rescued a 

14 132c! Inf Msg, 1249, 18 Dec 42. 

1B 25th Div Obs Notes, Attack Mt. Austen, in misc USAFISPA docs; 132c! Inf Hist, 1 Jan 42—30 Jun 44, 
gives the same data, but errs in the dates; I32d Inf, Account, Battle Mt. Austen, gives the same data as I32d 
Inf Hist. 1 3 2d Infantry reports often use Hill 27 to mean Mt. Austen's western summit. 

18 i32dlnf Unit Rpt, 18 Dec 42. 

1T Amer Div Narrative of Opns, p. 4. 

18 Notes, Attack Mt. Austen, p. 2. 



240 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



wounded man lying near by, and pulled Colonel Wright's body back. 19 

The 3d Battalion failed to gain ground on 19 December. Japanese riflemen 
harassed the troops with fire from concealed positions. A few infiltrated the 
American lines by slipping through the ravines to harass the supply parties and 
the engineers cutting the supply trail near Hill 35. At 1700 a concealed enemy 
automatic weapon opened fire and surprised the combined battalion command 
post, aid station, and ammunition dump. Simultaneously, at least two enemy 
riflemen also opened fire on the command post. The headquarters troops 
cleared the area hastily, and the command post was not reorganized until 

1830. 20 

The regimental commander then ordered the reserve 1st Battalion (less D 
Company) to move southeast to join the left flank of the 3d Battalion south of 
Hill 19. Both battalions then dug in on a line which faced generally south from 
a point south of Hill 20, and extended east toward the eastern tip of Hill 21. 

The night of 19-20 December was typical of the Mount Austen operation. 
It was noisy with artillery, small-arms, and automatic weapons fire. American 
artillery harassed the enemy throughout the night, while Japanese soldiers, 
attempting to infiltrate the i32d's line, employed noise-making ruses to tempt 
the Americans to fire and disclose their positions. 

On 20 December the 1st Battalion sent out patrols in an unsuccessful effort 
to find the enemy's east flank, while Japanese riflemen and patrols harassed the 
i32d Infantry's flanks and rear. 21 On 21 December General Sebree ordered the 
i32d Infantry to cut the Maruyama Trail, which, he thought, lay across its left 
front. 22 Accordingly C Company advanced 1,000 yards to the south but found 
no enemy troops and no trail. 

Meanwhile, getting supplies to the two front line battalions was proving 
difficult. Wright Road was a narrow, tortuous trail fit only for jeeps, and the 
heavy rains made its steep grades slick and dangerous. Jeeps could bring sup- 
plies to Hill 35, the point to which the engineers had pushed the road by 20 
December, but beyond Hill 35 all ammunition, water, food, replacement parts, 
and medical supplies had to be hand-carried forward over rough, wooded 
slopes. Raiding enemy riflemen led the regimental commander, who was con- 
cerned about the security of the supply line, to request the Americal Division 

16 Amer Div G-3 Journal, 19 Dec 42. 

30 Notes, Attack Mt. Austen, p. 2. 

31 132c! Inf Unit Rpt, 20 Dec 42. 

22 Msg, Asst Div Comdr Amer Div to CO 132c! Inf, 1440, 21 Dec 42. 132c! Inf Journal. 



THE DECEMBER OFFENSIVE 



241 



headquarters to use the 2d Battalion, i32d Infantry, and the Mobile Combat 
Reconnaissance Squadron to protect the route. 23 Division headquarters, assert- 
ing that the supply line was not in serious danger, denied this request. 24 

The 101st Medical Regiment's Collecting Company, assisted by the 25th 
Division Collecting Company, was having trouble in evacuating wounded and 
sick. Litter bearers carried them to battalion aid stations 100 yards behind the 
firing line. Serious cases were carried in 100-yard relays to the forward collecting 
station on Hill 35, and from there jeep-ambulances carried them to the Lunga 
perimeter. Carrying the litters up and down ridges and through ravines was so 
exhausting that bearers had to be relieved and rested after one or two trips. 25 
The medical aid men were fired on so frequently that they began to discard 
their arm brassards in favor of weapons. As carrying both wounded men and 
rifles at the same time proved awkward, two-man escorting parties armed with 
rifles and submachine guns escorted the litter bearers. Later in the operation, 
engineers and medical men fixed skids on litters to slide them down hills, and 
also rigged pulleys and steel cables to carry the litters across the deepest ra- 
vines. 26 

Resolute patrolling on 23 December produced more significant results than 
did the patrolling on 20 and 21 December. The 1st Battalion patrols covered 
1,000 yards they had previously penetrated, then reconnoitered 500 yards farther 
toward the south and west. When they found neither Japanese nor trails, regi- 
mental headquarters concluded that the Maruyama Trail did not cross Mount 
Austen but circled along its southern slopes to reach the upper Lunga. In the 
north a 3d Battalion patrol advanced westward from the summit, skirting the 
southeast grassy area of Hill 30, and reached Hill 31, another grassy area more 
than 1,000 yards west of the i32d Infantry's line. The patrol, finding only 
abandoned enemy bivouacs around Hill 31, turned south and advanced a short 
distance before turning east to return to the American lines. On the return trip 
the patrol encountered small-arms fire. It returned the fire, killed one Japanese, 
and reached the lines without loss. 27 

As the patrol had found a safe route to Hill 31, Colonel Nelson changed 
the direction of his attack. At 2000, 23 December, he ordered the 3d Battalion 

28 Msg, CO i32d Inf to Hq Amer Div, 0950, 21 Dec 42. 1526 Inf Journal. 

24 Msg, Asst Div Comdr Amer Div to CO 1526 Inf, 1440, 21 Dec 42. 

26 Lt Col Raymond Bunshaw (25th Div), Recon Rpt, 31 Dec 42, in misc USAFISPA docs. 

26 Col Dale G. Friend, Rpt, in 101st Med Regt Hist and Rpts, in SGO files. 

27 I32d Inf Rpt, 23 Dec 42. 




THE GIFU, Japanese strong point in Mount Austen, lay on the jungled slopes between Hills 
31 and 27, at the top of the picture. This scene was photographed from an airplane dropping 
supplies to troops on Hill 44 west of the Gifu, where a Japanese mortar burst shows. Hill 44 
is separated from Mount Austen by the Matanil(au River gorge. 



THE DECEMBER OFFENSIVE 



243 



to move west over the patrol's route and prepare to attack toward Hill 27 from 
the north. The 1st Battalion was to follow the 3d Battalion west to cover the 
open areas (Hills 20, 28, 29, and 30) and to be in a position to assist the leading 
battalion, protect the supply route, and assist in carrying supplies forward. 28 
Attachj Against the Gifu Strong Point, 24-30 December 

The 3d Battalion left its area at 0730, 24 December, in column of com- 
panies. L Company again led, followed by I and Headquarters Companies, the 
medical detachment, and M and K Companies. The battalion reached Hill 31 
in the afternoon after routing some enemy riflemen who tried to oppose the 
advance. It then started a push south into the jungle. As the troops moved up 
the grassy, open slopes of Hill 31 they were halted by heavy machine-gun fire 
from well-concealed positions. The battalion had not suffered any casualties 
that day, but Colonel Franco, the battalion commander, decided that it was too 
late in the day to develop the enemy position and continue the attack. The 3d 
Battalion established a perimeter defense for the night in the ravine between 
Hills 31 and 32. 29 

Meanwhile the reserve 1st Battalion had completed its move. All companies 
were reported in position by 1230. B Company held the west spur of Hill 30, 
C Company, Hill 29, and A Company, Hill 20. 30 

The machine-gun fire which had halted the 3d Battalion's attack came 
from the strongest Japanese defensive position on Guadalcanal — the Gifu 
strong point. Its garrison, about five hundred men from Oka's forces, had given 
it the name of a prefecture in Honshu. The Gifu lay between Hills 31 and 27, 
west of the summit of Mount Austen. The strongest part of the area was a 
horseshoe-shaped line of about forty-five inter-connecting pillboxes between the 
two hills. Arranged in a staggered formation, they were mutually supporting. 
The pillboxes were made of logs, and were dug into the ground and revetted 
inside and out with earth. The roofs were three logs thick; the walls, two logs. 
Earth and foliage concealed and protected the pillbox tops, which rose less than 
three feet above the surface of the ground. 

Each pillbox contained at least one and sometimes two machine guns, plus 
two or three riflemen. Supporting riflemen and light machine gunners outside 

28 132CI Inf Journal, 23 Dec 42. 

afl i32d Inf Unit Rpt, 24 Dec 42, states that the 3d Battalion had reached a point 450 yards from Hill 
27. The battalion either mistook the summit for Hill 27, or overestimated its progress, for a point 450 yards 
north of Hill 27 was inside the Gifu. 

80 Overlay attached to 133d Inf Unit Rpt, 24 Dec 42. 



244 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



the pillboxes had prepared positions under the bases of mahogany and banyan 
trees, and some were reported, probably erroneously, to have established them- 
selves in the treetops. Foliage concealed the fire lanes, and in the thick, dark 
forest the well-camouflaged pillboxes were almost invisible* The machine guns 
in the positions covered all approaches with interlocking bands of fire, and the 
American infantrymen were to have great difficulty in finding their exact loca- 
tions. When one machine gun was knocked out the Japanese would redis- 
tribute their automatic weapons. 81 

Mortar fire usually did little damage to the Gifu. The 105-mm, howitzer 
was to prove more effective, but only direct hits could damage the pillboxes. 
Anything lighter was ineffective, and less plunging fire burst in the trees. 32 
Fuzed charges of high explosive could have destroyed the pillboxes had the 
soldiers been able to get close enough to place them. Flame throwers were not 
then in use. The attacking troops, of course, did not possess exact knowledge 
about the Gifu. Whenever they moved into the jungle, heavy fire would force 
them down before they could close in to locate the pillboxes. 

The enemy position, though strong, was not invulnerable. It was a fixed 
position, but the Japanese were unable to supply or reinforce it. The attacking 
American forces had a preponderance of artillery support, while the Japanese, 
apparently lacking sufficient ammunition, seldom used artillery on Mount 
Austen. The west side of the Gifu was weak, and the omission of Hill 27 from 
the perimeter of the strong point left the Gifu open to eventual envelopment. 
On 25 December General Sano, commanding the 38th Division, tried to raise 
morale with an "Address of Instruction/ 1 He assured his men that the Ameri- 
cans had lost their fighting spirit and promised that patient endurance of 
starvation by the Japanese would soon be rewarded by air, ground, and naval 
reinforcements. Sano, urging his troops to resist with "desperate determina- 
tion," referred slightingly to the American reliance on fire power and faith in 
"material substance." 38 

The attack of the i32d Infantry was renewed on Christmas Day. The three 
rifle companies of the 3d Battalion were to advance southward in line from 
Hill 31 toward Hill 27. M Company was in reserve. At 0930 the rifle companies, 

81 Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab A; 132c! Inf S-2 Rpt, 7 Jan 43; Capt Gerald H. Shea, "Lessons from Guadal- 
canal," Infantry Journal (July 1943), pp. 9— 10; interv with Col Larsen. Americal Division sources estimate 
75 pillboxes in the Gifu, but Larseh says there were about 45. 

82 I32d Inf S— 2 Rpt, 7 Jan 43. Amer Div Journal. 
83 . XIV Corps Trans. Amer Div G— 2 Journal. 



THE DECEMBER OFFENSIVE 



2 45 



supported by 6o-mm. mortar fire, began advancing from the open area into the 
jungle. As the men entered the jungle their movements were impeded by the 
rocky terrain. 34 The Japanese maintained rifle and machine-gun positions out 
beyond the pillbox line to prevent the attackers from drawing close. The 
Americans were forced to fight for each yard of ground against an invisible 
enemy. 35 By 1335, after moving a short distance, the American companies had 
been completely halted by machine-gun and rifle fire from their front and 
flanks. Patrols then attempted to locate the enemy's right and left flanks, but 
Japanese fire halted their movements. The battalion had by that time lost three 
officers and nine enlisted men killed and sixteen enlisted men wounded. The 
regimental commander ordered the troops to retire to their original positions 
while howitzers shelled the enemy. 

As a result of the day's action, the regimental commander concluded that 
the Japanese had built a perimeter defense in the area. He decided to resume 
the attack on the next morning. The 3d Battalion was to deliver a frontal 
attack while the 1st Battalion covered the 3d Battalion's left flank, and moved 
1,000 yards to the south to establish a position from which patrols could deploy 
to locate the enemy flanks. 36 

At 1030, 26 December, after an artillery and aerial bombardment, the 3d 
Battalion again tried to move forward. K Company advanced on the right 
(west), I Company on the left (east). L Company was held in reserve on Hill 
31. The 1st Battalion (less C Company) covered the 3d Battalion's left flank, 
while C Company covered the 1st Battalion's rear from Hills 29 and 30. The 
3d Battalion was able to advance only to the line reached on the previous day. 
Heavy machine-gun fire halted the assault companies again. Soldiers from K 
Company located one machine-gun position and killed nine Japanese with 
grenades. Meanwhile B Company, given the mission of finding the enemy's 
east flank, had been halted by machine-gun fire. At 1600 the troops dug in along 
the south edge of Hill 31. K Company held the right, I and B Companies the 
center, and A Company held the left flank. The day's attack cost the 3d Bat- 
talion five killed and twelve wounded. In addition twenty-one sick men were 
evacuated on 26 December. 37 Nine Japanese were known to have been killed. 38 

14 Interv with Lt Co! John Hill (former FO, 22 1 st FA bn) , 1 9 Jun 46. 

88 Interv with Col Gavan. 

89 Msg, CO i32d Inf to G-3 Amer Div, 0830, 26 Dec 42. Amer Div G-3 Journal; msg, CO 132c! Inf to 
CO 1st Bn, 132c! Inf> 0725, 26 Dec 42, i32d Inf Journal. 

87 i32d Inf Unit Rpt, 26 Dec 42. 

88 i32d Inf ExO Rpt, 2005, 26 Dec 42. Amer Div G-3 Journal 



246 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



The Gifu was still intact, but the 1326 now held a line between the Gifu and 
Hill 31, from which the enemy could no longer observe the Lunga area. 

The regimental commander decided to use both battalions in the next day's 
attack. While the 3d Battalion delivered a holding attack, A, B, and C Com- 
panies were to swing south and east to find the enemy flanks. 39 The 3d Bat- 
talion moved forward at 0800 but was halted by machine-gun fire. The 1st 
Battalion meanwhile moved south in a column of companies. But it had become 
confused in the jungle. Ordered to assemble between Hills 29 and 30, the 1st 
Battalion actually assembled in the ravine between Hills 30 and 31, 400 yards 
too far to the west. 40 Its right flank closely crowded the left flank of the 3d Bat- 
talion, making free maneuver impossible. In the lead, B Company ran into the 
Gifu line instead of outflanking it. As B Company was quickly halted by ma- 
chine guns, A Company then deployed to the left where it met less fire, for the 
Gifu's main eastern bulge did not extend east of Hill 30. 

Patrols on 27 and 28 December could find no gaps in the enemy lines, nor 
any flanks, but on 29 December an 8-man patrol from the 1st Battalion brought 
in valuable information. It had found a clear route to Hill 27. Leaving Hill 29 
and advancing south for 1,500 yards, it had turned west and advanced 200 
yards before returning at 1330. 41 By advancing due south from Hill 29, the 
patrol had avoided the eastern bulge of the Gifu, and found the route by which 
Hill 27 could be economically assaulted. 

By the end of December the battalions were dispirited 42 and in poor physi- 
cal condition. Between 19 and 30 December the two battalions had lost 34 
killed, 129 wounded, 19 missing, and 131 sick and evacuated, a total of 313 
casualties. 43 Each battalion had been understrength at the outset, and by 28 
December effective strength in both battalions totaled only 1,541.** 

The Capture of Hill 27 

The Plan 

Although the attack of the i32d Infantry had bogged down, the American 
generals agreed that the Mount Austen operation should be continued. At a 

8B Msg, ExO 1 3 2d Inf to G-3 Amcr Div, 2.6 Dec 42. Amer Div G-3 Journal. 

*° 1 3 2d Inf Hist, p. 7. 

" i32d Inf Unit Rpt, 29 Dec 42. 

" Msg, CO 1 3 2d Inf to G-3 Amer Div, 0830, 26 Dec 42. 
49 i32d Inf Unit Rpts, 19-30 Dec. 42. 
" 1 3 2d Inf Unit Rpt, 28 Dec 42. 



THE DECEMBER OFFENSIVE 



247 



conference held at General Patch's command post on 29 December, Generals 
Harmon, Patch, Collins, and Sebree decided to attempt to complete the capture 
of Mount Austen because it was an essential preliminary to the corps offensive 
planned for January. 45 

The i32d's commander believed that a co-ordinated attack by the 1st and 
3d Battalions from the north coupled with a wide envelopment by the 2d 
Battalion, would capture Hill 27/ 16 The i32d Infantry's Field Order No. 1, issued 
on 30 December 1942, announced the plan for continuing the attack by taking 
Hill 27. The 3d Battalion was to continue attacking south from Hill,3i while the 
1st Battalion pushed against the enemy's eastern line. To secure sufficient space 
for maneuver, the 1st Battalion was to jump off from assembly areas east of Hill 
30, advance southward, then swing southwest to attack Hill 27. 

The fresh 2d Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. George F. Ferry, was to 
deliver the main attack. On 28 December the regimental commander was in- 
formed that this battalion would be released to him, and regimental headquar- 
ters immediately began to plan for its employment. The battalion executive 
officer and each company commander were ordered to reconnoiter the routes 
leading to Hill 27. 

To capture Hill 27 from the south the 2d Battalion was to make a wide 
envelopment, starting from Hill 11 in a southwesterly direction. When the 
battalion reached a point southeast of Hill 27, it was to turn to the northwest 
and attack up the south slopes of Hill 27. Each battalion would be responsible 
for the security of its flanks. 47 H Hour was originally set for 0630, 1 January 
1943, but was postponed to 0630, 2 January 1943, when the 2d Battalion's 
progress up Wright Road proved slow. 48 The 2d Battalion was to be in position 
southeast of Hill 27 on the night prior to the regimental attack. 

While patrols from the 1st and 3d Battalions reconnoitered the enemy 
lines, the 2d Battalion left the perimeter defense on 30 December to march up 
Wright Road to Hill 11, where it bivouacked on the night of 31 December 1942- 
1 January 1943. At daybreak on New Year's Day the battalion left Hill 11. 
I {Map XZZ)| Hill 27 lies less than one air mile from Hill 11, but the enveloping 
march up and down almost vertical slopes covered 6,000 yards. 49 The terrain 

" USAFISPA Guadalcanal ms No. 2, Ch. VIII, pp. 347-48. 

46 1 3 2d Inf Unit Rpt, 29 Dec 42. 

47 132c! Inf FO No. 1 , 30 Dec 42, in i32d Inf FO's and Msgs. 
" Ltr, Col Arthur to Hist Sec, Hq, USMC, 1 1 Oct 45. 

49 Gavan, Personal account, p. 4. 




THE MOUNT AUSTEN BATTLE AREA viewed from the coast just east of the Matani- 
\au River (lower right). Light portions of the picture are open, grass-covered hills; dar\ 
areas are dense jungle. 



THE DECEMBER OFFENSIVE 



2 49 



proved so difficult that on 2 January 175 litter bearers were to take five hours to 
evacuate 20 casualties over the same route. 50 Since the crest of Hill 27 was 
nearly invisible from the jungle, an airplane, gunning its engine at intervals, 
flew between Hill 11 and the objective every fifteen minutes to help orient the 
scouts. The 2d Battalion was fired on by a few enemy riflemen but did not 
delay its approach march, and the battalion arrived at the day's objective — the 
southeast slope of Hill 27 — by 1600 without losing a man. Colonel Ferry was 
confirmed in his belief that the fire from the scattered Japanese riflemen usually 
called "snipers" was not dangerous when the troops kept moving. 

Meanwhile the commander of the I32d Infantry, who was suffering from 
malaria and the debilitating effects of the tropics, had asked to be relieved. 51 
Col Alexander M. George took over command of the regiment and arrived at 
the i32d Infantry's forward command post at 0915, 1 January. One of his first 
acts was to stage a dramatic exhibition to demonstrate to the tired battalions 
facing the Gifu that Japanese small-arms fire was generally ineffective against 
a moving target. Clad in shorts and a fatigue cap, and armed with two .45- 
caliber automatic pistols and an Mi rifle, Colonel George inspected the front 
lines. He walked along erect in full view of the soldiers of the 1st and 3d Bat- 
talions. Some soldiers, unaware of his identity, shouted to him to take cover, 
but Colonel George finished his tour. Japanese soldiers in the jungle helped him 
to prove his point by shooting at him repeatedly but inaccurately. 52 

Artillery support for the regimental offensive of 2 January was heavier 
than on previous occasions. It included the 105-mm. howitzers of the 247th 
Field Artillery Battalion, the 75-mm. pack howitzers of the 3d Battalion, 10th 
Marines, and the 155-mm. howitzers of the recently landed B Battery, 90th 
Field Artillery Battalion, 25th Division. 53 
Operations of the 3d and 1st Battalions, 2 January 

The i32d Infantry moved to the attack at 0630, 2 January. The 3d Bat- 
talion, pouring fire into the jungle in its zone, was able to advance in line from 
Hill 31 for a short distance into the jungle, although I Company on the left 
met heavy fire. At 1400 the battalion established positions just south of the tree 

60 Bunshaw Recon Rpt, pp. T4-1 5. 

51 T32d Inf Hist, p. 7; intervs with Gen Sebree and Cols Gavan, Long, and Hill; Amer Div Periodic Rpt, 
15-31 Dec 42, in USAFISPA G-3 Periodic Rpt, 15-31 Dec 42. 
"Intcrv with Col Hill. 

BS 247th FA Bn Journal, 2 Jan 43; 3d Bn, 10th Mar, Unit Rpt, 2 Jan 43; ooih FA Hist Bn, 1 Jan 43-30 Jun 
43, p. i. (The bulk of 25th Div records are in HRS DRB AGO). B Battery was the advanced echelon of the 
90th Field Artillery Battalion, 



250 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



line on Hill 31. In the day's fighting the battalion killed fifteen Japanese and 
lost four killed and eighteen wounded. 

The 1st Battalion had moved in column to the southwest out of the ravine 
between Hills 29 and 30 simultaneously with the 3d Battalion's attack. When 
fire from Japanese patrols hit C Company which was leading, it deployed while 
A Company moved south and east to bypass the Japanese, and then turned 
southwest again, followed by B Company. By 1000 A Company had reached a 
point just east of the Gifu's eastern bulge. Before the end of the day C Company 
cleared out the enemy in its front and rejoined the main body. The 1st Bat- 
talion then dug in on a line east of the Gifu. The left flank lay near Hill 27, 
but a 200-yard gap remained between the 1st and 3d Battalions. During the day 
the 1 st Battalion killed twenty-five Japanese, C Company accounting for most 
of them. Two 1st Battalion soldiers were killed and four were wounded. 
Operations of the 2d Battalion 

In a difficult zone of action, the 2d Battalion was able to take its objectives 
in one of the day's most successful operations. The battalion's roundabout 
march through the jungle on the previous day had not alerted the Japanese. At 
0630 the battalion moved out of its bivouac area to attack; it advanced in col- 
umn of companies with each company in single file. As the battalion began the 
climb up the southeast slopes about 0730, the troops deployed as much as the 
terrain would permit. E Company advanced on the left, F Company on the 
right, while G and H Companies were held in reserve. The climb was hard. 
Perspiration soaked the men's clothing and cut through the camouflage black- 
ing on their faces. The slippery slopes delayed their advance, but no Japanese 
opened fire. 

By 0907 the leading assault troops gained the summit without firing a shot, 
and by 1 130 all assault troops had reached the top. The Japanese had been com- 
pletely surprised. As E and F Companies reached the top they saw a 3-inch 
mountain howitzer in the open about 100 yards north of the crest. The enemy 
crew was sprawled at ease in the shade about thirty yards from the howitzer. 
The Japanese artillerymen ran for their weapon, but riflemen of the assault 
companies picked off each gunner before he could reach it. 54 

The 2d Battalion began to organize Hill 27 for defense, but digging in on 
the rocky crest was slow work. Like nearly all Army and Marine Corps units 
on Guadalcanal, the battalion was suffering from serious shortages, and did 

" Interv with Col Long, 31 May 44. 



THE DECEMBER OFFENSIVE 



251 



not possess enough entrenching tools. Before the troops could complete their 
foxholes and machine-gun emplacements, the Japanese north of Hill 27 recov- 
ered from their surprise and attempted to recapture the hill. Using mortars, 
grenade dischargers, machine guns, rifles, and some artillery, they poured a 
heavy fire on the exposed troops. An artillery forward observer on Hill 27 
describes the fire fight: 

Then all hell broke loose. Machine guns and rifles pinged from all directions. Snipers 
fired r'rom trees . . . Crossfire cut down our boys who were over the hill . . . Our Garands 
[Mi riflesj answered the fire and the battle was on. Enemy "Knee mortars" [grenade dis- 
chargers] popped on our lines with painful regularity. Our own 6o's [mortars J opened and 
neutralized them only to have the shells start lobbing in from a different direction. 35 

In forty minutes, as the troops dug in under fire, the 2d Battalion lost eight 
men killed and seventy wounded but they held the hill against the six succes- 
sive infantry counterattacks launched by the Japanese in the afternoon. 56 After 
mortar fire the Japanese infantry would rush southward against the American 
lines, but the 2d Battalion beat off each assault. 

In the late afternoon the 2d Battalion moved back off the exposed crest for 
the night and dug in on the reverse slope, about 100 yards south of the military 
crest where the hill was narrower. During the night of 2-3 January the bat- 
talion was almost surrounded, for the Japanese had penetrated to positions on 
the north, northwest, and southwest of Hill 27. Heavy artillery concentrations 
on the enemy's positions prevented him from getting close enough to the 2d 
Battalion to break its lines. On one occasion, when enemy troops climbed the 
north slopes to set up machine guns which could have covered the 2d Bat- 
talion's lines, the 3d Battalion, 10th Marines, placed one concentration directly 
in front of the lines. The shells exploded between the Americans and the Japa- 
nese, who were unable to get even one gun into action. The Japanese employed 
the standard ruse of firing mortar shells into the American lines while the 
American artillery shells were bursting — a ruse designed to make the American 
infantrymen think their own artillery fire was falling short. Some cried "cease 
fire," but the forward observer kept the artillery firing." By dawn the last 
enemy soldier had been killed or driven off. The 2d Battalion moved back to 
the military crest of Hill 27 to dig in securely, and H Company moved its 
heavy weapons up to the hilltop. 

BB Capt John F. Casey, Jr., "An Artillery Forward Observer on Guadalcanal," Field Artillery Journal, 
August 1943 (XXXIII, 8), 564. 

88 i32d Inf Unit Rpt, 2 Jan 43. 
BT Casey, op- cit., p. 566. 



252 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



On 3 January the 1st Battalion, attempting to push west to straighten the 
bulge in the line, established contact on its left with the 2d Battalion. By 1000, 
4 January, patrols from companies of the 1st and 3d Battalions had met at a 
point about 500 yards south of the ravine between Hills 31 and 30. 
The Results 

The i32d Infantry was ordered to dig in and hold its gains and on 4 Janu- 
ary it began to build a strong half-moon-shaped line around the eastern bulge 
of the Gifu between Hills 31 and 27. The troops built log-covered foxholes and 
wired in the lines. The addition of D Company, which was relieved from the 
Lunga perimeter defense, enabled Colonel George to place one machine gun 
platoon on the line in support of each rifle company. Every heavy weapons 
company sent one mortar platoon to form a provisional 81-mm. mortar battery 
on the reverse slope of Hill 29. The i32d Infantry's operations from 1 to 3 
January had ringed the Gifu strong point on the north, east, and south with 
a strong line which was to prove impervious to enemy counterattacks. 

Hard hit by battle fatigue, malaria, dysentery, and casualties, the i32d was 
incapable of further offensive action. It held the line until relieved by the 2d 
Battalion, 35th Infantry, of the 25th Division. During its twenty-two days on 
Mount Austen the i32d Infantry lost 112 men killed, 268 wounded, and 3 miss- 
ing; it estimated that during the same period it had killed between 400 and 500 
Japanese. 58 Part of Mount Austen was still in Japanese hands, but the I32d's 
accomplishments were of great value. Observation of the perimeter was denied 
to the Japanese, and the XIV Corps' troops could be safely deployed in the 
forthcoming southwesterly operations. The 133d Infantry had located and 
partly rolled up the Japanese east flank. With the arrival of the 25th Division, 
preparations could be made for more ambitious efforts. 

" 132c! Inf Hist, p. 9. 



CHAPTER XI 



XIV Corps' First January Offensive: 
The West Front 

General Patch, it will be remembered, had ordered the attack against Mount 
Austen in December as a preliminary to a large offensive in January. Once the 
i32d Infantry had taken Hill 27 and encircled the east portion of the Gifu, it 
became possible for troops to operate over the hills west of Mount Austen in a 
drive, beginning on 10 January 1943, which was designed to destroy the Japanese 
or drive them from Guadalcanal. 

Except for the attacks against Mount Austen, the American lines in the 
west sector had not changed substantially since November. The west line, run- 
ning south from Point Cruz, was refused eastward at Hill 66, and joined the 
old perimeter defense line at the Matanikau River. South of the perimeter de- 
fense the i32d Infantry was facing the Gifu garrison between Hills 31 and 27 
on Mount Austen, 

In late December General Patch had ordered the west sector extended to 
provide more maneuver room for the projected January offensive, and to ensure 
the unhindered construction of a supply road west of the Matanikau. 1 The 
Americal Division's Reconnaissance Squadron had seized Hill 56 — an isolated 
eminence about 600 yards southeast of Hill 66 — against scattered opposition, 
while the 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, had taken Hills 55 and 54 west of the 
Matanikau. There are no ridges connecting Hills 56 and 66, or 56 with 55. The 
troops did not hold a continuous line, but patrols covered the deep canyons 
between the hills. 

The supply road in question was an extension of Marine Trail, a track which 
led from the coast road southward along the east bank of the Matanikau to 
Hill 49. By 5 January Americal Division engineers had built a motor bridge 
across the Matanikau at the foot of Hill 65. Bulldozing the road, they had 
reached the 900-foot summit of Hill 55 by 9 January. 

1 Ltr, Col Arthur to Hist Sec, Hq, USMC, 1 1 Oct 45. 



254 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



By the first week of January 1943, the divisions of the XIV Corps, it will 
be recalled, numbered over 40,000 men, as compared with less than 25,000 of 
the Japanese iyth Army on Guadalcanal. All three combat teams of Maj. Gen. 
J. Lawton Collins' 25th Division had landed on Guadalcanal between 17 De- 
cember 1942 and 4 January 1943, and bivouacked east of the Lunga River. Head- 
quarters of the 2d Marine Division and the reinforced 6th Marines, CoL Gilder 
T. Jackson commanding, had reached Guadalcanal on 4 January to join the rest 
of the division. Brig. Gen. Alphonse De Carre, the assistant division com- 
mander, led the 2d Marine Division on Guadalcanal. 2 

Although the XIV Corps' troop strength and materiel sufficed for an 
offensive, the transportation of supplies to the front prior to and after 10 Jan- 
uary was difficult. Poor roads and lack of sufficient motor transport slowed 
the movement of supplies to all units. Only the indispensable, rugged ^-ton 
truck (jeep) could negotiate the rough corduroy trails and steep hills of the 
southern sector. The 25th Division's infantry units, operating in that area, were 
to depend almost entirely upon jeeps and hand<arriers for ammunition, food, 
water, and for evacuation. The supply of the 2d Marine Division was easier 
over the coast road and lateral trails. 

At the start of the January offensives the Japanese positions west of the 
Matanikau were substantially the same as in December. The enemy had con- 
centrated considerable strength between Point Cruz and Kokumbona. He did 
not hold a continuous line on the uphill flank but rather a series of strong 
points with patrols and riflemen covering the areas between. In the coastal 
sector the enemy continued to employ the north-south ravines to good advantage. 
By placing machine guns at the head of a draw the Japanese could enfilade 
with flanking fire any troops attempting to advance west. Thus a few Japanese 
could delay or halt hundreds of Americans. American headquarters believed 
that the Japanese held strongly the high ground south of Hill 66 and west of 
the Matanikau. 3 In the Gifu on Mount Austen soldiers from the 124th and 
228th Infantry Regiments continued to resist and some elements of the same 
regiments, supported by artillery and mortars, were occupying areas to the west. 

General Patch explained his plan for the first offensive in a letter to General 



Collins dated 5 January 1943. (Appendix B) He ordered the 25th Division, 



2 Maj Gen John Marston, USMC, CG, 2cl Marine Division, remained in Wellington, N. Z. Since the Army 
furnished the majority of troops on Guadalcanal in January, General Patch was to command. General Marston, 
his senior in rank, remained in New Zealand. See USMC, Guadalcanal Campaign, p. 90. 

3 Ltr, Col Long to Col Buckley, 21 Mar 43. 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE WEST FRONT 



255 



then east of the Lunga River, to relieve the 132c! Infantry on Mount Austen 
without delay and to seize a nd hold a line approximately 3,000 yards west of 
Mount Austen. (Map XIII) The 2d Marine Division was to maintain contact 
with the right flank of the 25th Division, which would provide for the security of 
its own left flank. General Patch gave General Collins the authority to deal di- 
rectly with the 2d Marine Air Wing commander in securing close air support. 

General Patch ordered the Americal Division Artillery and one recently 
arrived 155-mm. howitzer battery and one 155-mm. gun battery of the Corps 
Artillery to support the 2d Marine Division's advance along the coast and to 
be prepared to reinforce the 25th Division Artillery. The 75-mm. pack howitzers 
of the 2d Battalion, 10th Marines, were to support the 25th Division Artillery. 4 
The Americal Division was to hold the perimeter defense from 9 to 26 January. 
Only its artillery, the Reconnaissance Squadron, the i82d Infantry, and the 
2d Battalion of the i32d Infantry were to take part in the XIV Corps' January 
offensives. 



Capture of the Galloping Horse 

The 25th Division s Preparations 

The offensive in January was to be General Collins' first combat experience. 
Graduated from the U. S. Military Academy in 1917 at the age of twenty, he 
had been sent to Germany to serve with the Army of Occupation in 1919. From 
1921 to 1931 he attended and instructed in various Army schools, and was 
graduated from the Command and General Staff School in 1933. After a tour 
of duty in the Philippines, he was graduated from the Army Industrial and 
War Colleges. He taught at the War College for two years, served for several 
months with the War Department General Staff, and in 1941 became Chief of 
Staff of the VII corps, an organization which he was to command in the 
European Theater of Operations during 1944 and 1945. Immediately after the 
Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Collins became Chief of Staff of the 
Hawaiian Department and in May 1942 he was made a major general and 
given the command of the 25th Division. 

Upon receipt of General Patch's orders, the 25th Division made prepara- 

* 25th Div, Opns on Guadalcanal 17 Dec 42—5 Feb 43, App. II. The parts of this volume dealing with the 
25th Division are largely based on 25th Div Opns. In his first radio messages General Patch, for security, re- 
ferred to this operation as a reconnaissance in force, although it was actually a planned offensive. See memo, 
CG XIV Corps for COMGENSOPAC, 2145 of 16 Jan 43, in USAF1SPA G-3 Worksheet File, 1-15 Jan 43. 




THE FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE ZONE was west of the Matani\au and Army fight* 
ing was concentrated in the area of Hills 34, 55, 56 {above}. From Hill 42 on Mount Austen's 
northwest slopes, the sector could he seen clearly by 25M Division troops resting before the 
offensive started. 




FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE WEST FRONT 



257 



tions for the attack. Patrols examined all ground which could be covered on 
foot. General Collins, Brig. Gen. John R. Hodge, the assistant division com- 
mander, Brig. Gen. Stanley E. Reinhart, the artillery commander, staff officers, 
all regimental commanders, and most battalion commanders flew over the 
division's zone of action. Air photographs and observation gave a good view of 
the open country, but jungle obscured the canyons, valleys, and ravines. 

Intelligence officers of the 25th Division had little information on the 
enemy's strength and dispositions in the division's zone, but they did know 
that the Japanese were defending a series of strong points and that they held 
the Gifu and the high ground south of Hill 66 in strength. 5 

In the absence of complete information about the enemy's dispositions, 
terrain largely dictated the 25th Division's plan. 6 General Patch did not assign 
a southern boundary to the 25th Division, but the Lunga River would limit its 
movements south of Mount Austen. The northern divisional boundary ran 
along the northwest Matanikau fork. The Matanikau forks divided the 25th 
Division's zone into three almost separate areas: the area east of the Matanikau 
where the Gifu strong point was located; the open hills west of the Gifu 
between the south and southwest Matanikau forks; and the open hills south 
of the Hill 66 line between the northwest and southwest Matanikau forks. 

General Collins issued Field- Order No. 1 to the 25th Division on 8 January 
1943. 7 With the 3d Battalion of the i82d Infantry, the Americal Division 
Reconnaissance Squadron, and the 1st Battalion of the 2d Marines attached, 8 
the 25th Division was to attack at 0635, 10 January, It was to seize and hold the 
assigned line about 3,000 yards west of Mount Austen — a line running generally 
south from the Hill 66 positions taken in November 1942. To the 35th Infantry, 
a Regular Army regiment commanded by Col. Robert B. McClure, were at- 
tached the 25th Division Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop and the 3d Battalion, 
i82d Infantry. Colonel McClure's troops were to relieve the i32d Infantry at 
the Gifu, take the high ground west of the Gifu, and attack west to seize and 
hold the division objective in the 35th Infantry's zone, a line about 3,000 yards 
west of Mount Austen. The 27th Infantry, a Regular Army regiment com- 
manded by Col. William A. McCulloch, was ordered to capture the high 

B Annex 2, 25th Div FO No. 1, 8 Jan 43, in 25th Div Opns, App. VI. 
8 25th Div Opns, p. 6. 
T 25th Div FONo. 1. 

8 When the 27th Infantry had passed through the 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, the latter battalion was to 
revert to the 2d Marine Division. 



258 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



ground between the northwest and southwest Matanikau forks. Col. Clarence 
A. Orndorff's 161st Infantry (less the 1st Battalion), formerly of the Wash- 
ington State National Guards was to be in division reserve. 

Divisional artillery battalions were to fire a 30-miuute preparation on 10 
January, from 0550 to 0620, on the water hole near Hill 66 and the hills to the 
south in the 27th Infantry's zone. Artillery preparation and aerial bombard- 
ment were to be omitted in the 35th Infantry's zone to avoid warning the 
Japanese of the effort against their south flank. 

The 8th Field Artillery Battalion (105-mm. howitzers) was to give direct 
support to the 27th Infantry. Directly supporting the 35th Infantry would be 
the 105-mm. howitzers of the 64th Field Artillery Battalion. The 89th (105-mm. 
howitzers) and the 90th (155-mm. howitzers) Field Artillery Battalions, and 
the 2d Battalion, 10th Marines, were originally assigned to general support. 
When General Collins later committed the 161st Infantry to mopping up 
actions, the 89th supported that regiment. The 75-mm. pack howitzers of the 
2d Battalion, 10th Marines, were to support the fires of the 8th Field Artillery 
Battalion as a secondary mission, for the open terrain of the 27th Infantry's 
zone would permit profitable use of light artillery. On 10 January the 155-mm. 
howitzers of the Americal Division's 221st Field Artillery Battalion also sup- 
ported the 25th Division's artillery. 

The enemy's deficiency in artillery and air power simplified the problem 
of selecting forward artillery positions west t>f the Lunga River. Since defilade, 
camouflage, and concealment were not necessary, the artillerymen were able 
to emplace their guns on the forward slopes of hills with impunity. 9 All bat- 
talions prepared to move their howitzers from east of the Lunga to positions 
far enough west to be able to fire into Kokumbona. The 64th Field Artillery 
Battalion, supporting the 35th Infantry, selected positions on Mount Austen's 
foothills — the slopes of Hills 34 and 37, about 2,000 yards northeast of the Gifu 
and 9,000 yards southeast of Kokumbona. The 8th Field Artillery Battalion, 
supporting the 27th Infantry, selected positions on Hills 60, 61, and 62, south 
of the 64th and about 3,000 yards east of the easternmost hill in the 27th In- 
fantry's zone. The 89th Field Artillery Battalion decided on Hill 49, a high 
bluff east of the Matanikau River. The 90th Field Artillery Battalion selected 
positions about 1,000 yards east of the junction of Wright and the coastal roads. 10 

Rough ground and insufficient motor transport complicated the movement 

* 25th Div Arty Rpt Action Against Enemy (10 Jan-io Feb 43), p. 1. 
10 25th Div Opns, pp. 124-25; 90th FA Bn Hist, 1 Jan 43-Dec 44, p. 1. 




CASUALTY MOVEMENT taxed the facilities of medical units during the January offensive. 
The jeep, only vehicle able to negotiate the poor roads, was used as above to carry patients to 
hospitals after men were brought out of the front lines by hand-carry teams (below). 




260 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



of weapons, spare parts, ammunition, rations, and water. Every battalion initi- 
ally hauled two units of fire from the ammunition dump near the Ilu River to 
its battle position, a distance of over ten miles for each battalion. Two units of 
fire for the i05's weigh 135 tons, or fifty-four 2^-ton truckloads. Each 105-mm. 
battalion possessed but five 2*/2-ton trucks. The cloth's heavy transport originally 
consisted of only ten 4-ton trucks. In addition each battalion had but five jeeps, 
two %-ton weapons carriers, and four i-ton trailers. 11 By borrowing six 2%-ton 
trucks from the Americal Division and driving all vehicles day and night, the 
artillery battalions were able to put their howitzers into their positions and haul 
enough ammunition to support the projected offensive by 8 January. 12 With 
their howitzers in place, the artillery battalions established check points and 
registered fire on prospective targets. 

Air officers worked directly with General Collins and the 25th Division 
staff in planning air support. As some of the Japanese positions were defiladed 
from artillery fire, dive bombers and fighter-bombers were needed. SBD's were 
to drop 325-pound depth charges and P-39's; 500-pound demolition bombs, on 
the defiladed positions. 13 

The 25th Medical Battalion solved the problem of evacuation from Mount 
Austen and the hills to the west in the same manner as had the 101st in Decem- 
ber 1942. Engineers and medical troops strung cableways across canyons, rigged 
skids on light Navy litters so that they could slide, and later used a boat line on 
the Matanikau to evacuate wounded. Carrying litters up and down steep slopes 
exhausted litter-bearers so quickly that litter squads were enlarged from the 
usual four to six, eight, and even twelve men. 14 Converted jeeps were used 
as ambulances on the roads and trails. 

H Hour for the 25th Division was set at 0635, 10 January 1943. This attack, 
the most extensive American ground operation on Guadalcanal since the land- 
ing, was to open the final drive up the north coast. To make the offensive a 
success, the 25th Division had to carry out two missions: reduce the Gifu strong 
point, thus eliminating the last organized bodies of enemy troops east of the 
Matanikau; and capture the high ground south of the Point Cruz-Hill 66 line, 
thus beginning the envelopment of the Point Cruz-Kokumbona area and ex- 

11 25th Div Opns, p. 134; see also FM ioi-io, par. 121, p. 5. 

12 25th Div Opus, p. 134, Throughout the January offensive 25th Division artillerymen hauled 53»344 
rounds forward and fired 32,232 rounds. 

18 Memo, Col Dean C. Strother for CofS USAFISPA, 19 Jan 43, in USAFISPA G-3 Worksheet File, 1-15 
Jan 43. 

14 Interv with Col George E. Bush (former CO, 3d Bn, 27th Inf), 5 Aug 46. 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE WEST FRONT 



tending the western American lines far enough inland to make the forthcom- 
ing western advance a clean sweep. 
27th Infantry's Preparations 

In the 27th Infantry's zone, the 900-foot-high hill mass formed by Hills 
55-54-50-51-52-57-53, called the Galloping Horse from its appearance in an 



aerial photograph, dominated the Point Cruz area to the north. {Map XIV) The 
distance from Hill 53, the "head" of the Galloping Horse, to Hill 66 is about 
1,500 yards. Hill 50, the "tail," lies about 2,000 yards northeast of Hill 53. The 
Horse is isolated on three sides: 15 the Matanikau River's main stream separates 
it on the east from the high ground north of Mount Austen; the southwest 
fork of the Matanikau cuts it off from the hills on the south; and the northwest 
Matanikau fork flows between the Galloping Horse and the hills on the north. 
The heavy jungles lying along the river forks also help to isolate the hill mass. 
The southern slopes of the Horse's back and head — Hills 51, 52, and 53 — are 
almost perpendicular, and Hills 50 and 55 are nearly as steep. The hills are 
open, with only a few scattered trees. The main vegetation consists of high, 
dense, tough grass and brush. 

XIV Corps headquarters believed that the enemy's hold on the Galloping 
Horse was strong and that he would vigorously oppose the attack in this zone. 16 
Throughout December 1942 and January 1943, patrols from the 2d Marines 
and the Americal Division's Mobile Combat Reconnaissance Squadron had 
met heavy enemy rifle, machine-gun, and mortar fire from the vicinity of Hill 
52. The enemy troops, including elements of the 228th and 230th Infantry 
Regiments of the 38th Division, also held a series of strong points along the 
banks of the southwest Matanikau fork south of the Galloping Horse. 

Colonel McCulloch, commanding the 27th Infantry, determined to attack 
south across the 2,000-yard front of the Galloping Horse with two battalions 
supported by sections of the 27th Infantry's Cannon Company. Believing that 
the jeep trail from the Matanikau up to the summit of Hill 55 was not adequate 
for the delivery of supplies to two battalions attacking abreast, he decided to 
attack from two separate points. He ordered Lt. Col. Claude E. Jurney's 1st 
Battalion to attack on the right (west) against Hill 57 (the forelegs) from Hill 
66 in the 2d Marine Division's zone. The battalion was to advance south of 
Hill 66 across the northwest Matanikau fork, to seize the water hole where 
the i82d Infantry's detail had been ambushed on 18 November, and to take the 

1B 25th Div Opns, p. 5. 

16 Ltr, Col Long to Col Buckley, 21 Mar 43. 



262 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Corps' objective in its zone, the north part of Hill 57. F Company of the 8th 
Marines and the Americal Division's Reconnaissance Squadron were to provide 
flank security for the 1st Battalion. Colonel Jurney's battalion was to be sup- 
plied over the more convenient Hill 66 route. Twenty-five men from each com- 
pany of the 1st Battalion were to carry supplies forward from Hill 66. 

The 3d Battalion, Lt. Col George E. Bush commanding, was to advance 
on the left in a wide enveloping movement. Colonel Bush's troops were to 
assemble behind the 2d Marines' lines on Hill 55, and then advance south 
along the Galloping Horse's hind legs and attack generally southwest to take 
Hill 53, the Corps' objective in the 3d Battalion zone. Supplies for the 3d Bat- 
talion were to be brought from the coast road along Marine Trail, across the 
Matanikau, and up the jeep trail to Hill 55, from where they would be hand- 
carried by seventy-five natives escorted by soldiers of the Antitank Company. 
The assault battalions were to reach their lines of departure from the coast road. 

Lt. Col. Herbert V. Mitchell's 2d Battalion was to be initially in regimental 
reserve in assembly areas at the base of Hill 55. 17 The 1st Battalion of the 161st 
Infantry, Lt. Col. Louie C. Aston commanding, was attached to the 27th Infantry 
for this action to block the southwest Matanikau fork between Hill 50 and the 
high ground to the south, and to assist in holding a defense line along Hills 
50 and 51 after their capture. General Collins warned Colonel McCulloch that, 
if the 35th Infantry encountered difficulty in taking its objective to the south, 
the 27th might have to come to its assistance from the Hill 51-52 area before 
moving west to take Hill 53. 
The First Day: 1st Battalion Operations 

Artillery preparation for the attack on the Galloping Horse began at 
0550, 10 January, when the 25th Division artillery fired a heavy concentration 
on the water hole near Hill 66 and on the Galloping Horse's forelegs. In thirty 
minutes 5,700 rounds were fired by six field artillery battalions — the 8th, 64th, 
89th, and 90th from the 25th Division; the 2d Battalion, 10th Marines; and the 
221st from the Americal Division. Fire was controlled by the 25th Division's 
fire direction center. The 105-mm. howitzers fired 3,308 rounds; 155*5 fired 
518; 75's fired 1,874. The total weight of the projectiles was 99^ tons. 18 

To make all initial rounds hit their targets simultaneously, the artillery 
employed time-on-target fire. This technique, which the 25th Division had 

1T 27th Inf FO No. 2, 9 Jan 43, in 25th Div Unit FO's in misc docs from USAFISPA; 25th Div Opns, 
pp. 25-26. 

ls /W,p. 136. 




THE GALLOPING HORSE. This vertical photograph was ta\en from about 12,000 feet. 



264 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



rehearsed in previous training, invariably caused carnage among troops caught 
in the open, for they were not warned to take cover by the shells from the 
nearest battery landing shortly before the main concentration. The artillery 
fired at irregular intervals, hoping that the enemy troops who had survived 
the first blasts would believe the shelling to be over and expose themselves 
during lulls to the next volleys. 

This time-on-target (TOT) "shoot" was the first divisional TOT firing of 
the Guadalcanal campaign, and may have been the first divisional combat TOT 
firing by American artillerymen during World War II. 19 The fire devastated 
the vicinity of the water hole. It was so effective that when the 1st Battalion 
attacked south against its objective over a route known to have been formerly 
strongly held by the enemy, it encountered only minor opposition. 

As steep cliffs masked some of the enemy positions on the Horse from 
artillery shells, aircraft from the 2d Marine Air Wing then struck at the posi- 
tions on the reverse slopes. At 0620, when the artillery fire ceased, twelve P-39's 
and an equal number of dive bombers (SBD's) flew over to strike at the 
Japanese. Each P-39 carried one 500-pound bomb, and each dive bomber car- 
ried three 325-pound depth charges. 20 The artillery had laid a smoke line from 
the southwest tip of Hill 66 to the Horse's left (east) foreleg. No plane was to 
bomb east of the smoke line. But just before the attacking aircraft reached 
the target area, a quantity of ammunition blew up on Hill 56. It had been struck 
either by a short American shell or by an accurate round from the enemy's 
artillery. The leading bomber, apparently misled by the smoke from the ex- 
ploding ammunition, dropped a depth charge on the 8th Marines on Hill 66, 
and the second bombed Hill 55 east of the smoke line. Fortunately no marines 
or soldiers were hurt. 21 

Success of the 1st Battalion's attack south from Hill 66 against Hill 57 on 
10 January depended partly upon the security of its flanks while it crossed the 
northwest Matanikau fork in the ravine between Hills 66 and 57. After the 
bombardment F Company of the 8th Marines moved to the southwest corner 
of Hill 66 to be in position to tie the 2d Marine Division's left flank to the point 
where the 25th Division's right flank would be when it had reached its objec- 

10 Data on the "shoot" are taken from: 25th Div Opns, p. 128; 25th Div Arty Rpt, p. 3; Lt Col Robert 
Gildart, "Guadalcanal's Artillery," Infantry Journal, October 1943 (XXXIII, 10); and from intervs with Col 
William H. Allen, Lt Col Thomas J. Badger, Lt Col Dean Benson, and Col James J. Heriot. 

20 Guadalcanal and the Thirteenth Air Force, p. 153. 

31 25th Div Opns, p. 45. 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE WEST FRONT 



265 



tive. By 0742 the Marine company was in place. B Company of Colonel Jurney's 
battalion left Hill 66 at 0735 to seize the water hole. F (8th Marines) and B 
Companies then joined their flanks, thus assuring the security of the 1st Bat- 
talion's right flank. 

The Americal Division's Mobile Combat Reconnaissance Squadron had 
the mission of protecting the left flank of Colonel Jurney's battalion by block- 
ing the ravine between Hill 56 and the Horse's left (east) foreleg. Soldiers of 
the squadron reached the ravine and set up a block by 0830. An hour and a half 
later B and A Companies of the 27th Infantry made contact with the squadron. 22 

While its flanks were being secured, the 1st Battalion moved off Hill 66 in 
column of companies, with A Company leading, followed by C and D. Progress 
was rapid; the terrain offered more resistance than the Japanese. The TOT 
concentration had prevented any vigorous enemy resistance, and only three 
machine guns fired at the 1st Battalion. By 1027 A Company had crossed the 
river fork, and by 1140 the entire battalion had reached its objective on Hill 57. 23 
Colonel Jurney's men organized their positions on Hill 57 and fired in support 
of the 3d Battalion's advance against Hill 52. In the afternoon Colonel Jurney 
sent out a patrol which reached Hill 52 after dark to establish contact with the 
3d Battalion. 

The First Day: 3d Battalion Operations 

In its zone the 3d Battalion was to have a harder and longer fight. There 
the terrain, though open, is extremely rough. The thick woods in the valleys 
extend along the north side of the zone for 1,500 yards between the Horse's 
hind legs and forelegs. The Horse's body, formed by an open area 600 yards 
across from north to south, is cut by hills and ravines. Waist-high grass and 
broken ground in this area provided cover for advancing troops. South along 
the Horse's body the precipitous, almost perpendicular slopes leading to the 
jungled gorge of the southwest Matanikau fork made troop movements in 
that direction almost impossible. Hill 52 in the middle dominates the neighbor- 
ing hills. Between Hills 52 and 53 are two smaller hills, invisible from the 
ground east of Hill 52, which the 25th Division later called Exton and Sims 
Ridges after two 2d Battalion lieutenants who were killed on 12 January. 

Because it dominated the surrounding area, Hill 52 was an intermediate 
objective for the 3d Battalion in its_ attack toward Hill 53. It was a naturally 
strong position that a few troops could easily hold. Its level crest dominated 

23 Mob Combat Recon Sq Hist, p. 17; Unit Rpt, 1 1 Jan 43, in XIV Corps G— 3 Journal, 1 1 Jan 43. 
23 25th Div Opns, p. 31 ; 27th Inf Journal, 10 Jan 43, in 27th Inf Combat Rpt, 10-27 Jan 43. 



266 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



the approaches from the east and north, and the steep palisades on the south 
blocked any flanking movements from that side. Sheer drops on the west and 
south protected the defenders from American fire. Marine and Reconnaissance 
Squadron patrols had previously approached Hill 52 and reported it to be a 
"hornet's nest." 24 Although the area to the east had been scouted, no patrols 
had been able to push west of Hill 52 prior to 10 January. The 27th Infantry's 
information about the terrain west of Hill 52 had been derived from aerial 
reconnaissance and photographs. 

Colonel Bush, commanding the 3d Battalion, planned to move south from 
Hill 55 to take Hills 50 and 51, and then to attack west to seize Hills 52 and 
53. Since Hill 52 was too formidable to be taken by frontal assault, he hoped 
to take it by a double envelopment from the south and north, L Company on 
the left (south) and I on the right (north), and K in battalion reserve. To 
each assault company he attached a machine gun platoon from M Company. 
Two 37-mm. guns from the Antitank Platoon of Battalion Headquarters Com- 
pany, plus M Company's 81-mm. mortar platoon, were to constitute the base 
of fire on Hill 54, which was also the site of the battalion command post. Hill 
52 had not been a target for the preparatory aerial and artillery bombardments, 
although the artillery had registered on the crest. The 8th and other supporting 
battalions were to fire on call to support the 3d Battalion's attack. 

The 3d Battalion left its assembly area at the foot of Hill 55 at 0300, 10 
January. By 0610 the battalion had climbed Hill 55 and reached its line of 
departure on the north slopes. At H Hour, 0.635, the battalion moved south- 
ward through the Marine lines in column of companies to deploy for the 
attack. By 0646 the troops were moving down the forward slopes of Hill 54 
toward Hills 50 and 51. L Company captured Hill 51 without opposition and 
there established a base of fire. One platoon covered the company's left and 
rear; another platoon was held in support. Capt. Oliver A. Roholt, the company 
commander, sent the 1st Platoon to attack the southeast corner of Hill 52. 
Protected by the uneven ground and high grass, the platoon advanced rapidly 
and aggressively and by 0700 was halfway up the east slope. 25 As the soldiers 
prepared to assault the crest, Japanese machine-gun and mortar fire from their 
front and left flank forced them to halt. Captain Roholt, on Hill 51, did not 
believe that the platoon could outflank the enemy position, for mutually sup- 

24 25th Div Opns, p. 32. 

26 27th Inf Journal, 10 Jan 43: 3d Bn, 27th Inf, Activities 10-27 Jan 43, p. 1, in misc, docs from 
USAFISPA, 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE WEST FRONT 



267 



porting Japanese riflemen and machine gunners could cover all approaches 
from the east and north, and the steep precipice on the south would prevent 
the platoon from approaching the Japanese right flank or rear. The platoon 
had actually attacked along the front of the enemy line, and had thus exposed 
its own left flank to the enemy. 

Colonel Bush had planned to call for artillery fire to neutralize the crest 
of Hill 52 prior to the infantry attack, but L Company had moved too rapidly. 
The artillery could not fire on Hill 52's crest without endangering the platoon. 
While the 1st Platoon hugged the ground American artillery put fire on targets 
beyond Hill 52 but did not dare risk shelling the enemy strong point. 26 Amer- 
ican 37-mm. guns and mortars put direct fire on and over the crest, but the 37^ 
could not reach the Japanese troops, who were defiladed by the sheer drop. 
Mortar fire could have hit the enemy on Hill 52, but the 3d Battalion mortar 
crews did not know the exact location of the enemy weapons. 

Captain Roholt ordered the platoon to withdraw 100 yards east to enable 
him to cover the whole crest with mortar fire. The message was relayed to the 
platoon leader, but, as the words "100 yards" had been inadvertently dropped 
from the message by the time he received it, he pulled his men all the way 
back to Hill 51. 27 L Company did not then renew the assault against Hill 52 but 
continued to fire at the crest. Captain Roholt informed Colonel Bush that the 
terrain created difficulties of control and communication which made a deep 
southern envelopment impracticable. He advised the colonel to abandon the 
idea of envelopment from the south. 

Meanwhile Capt. H. H. Johnson, Jr. was leading I Company in its at- 
tempted northern envelopment on the battalion's right. At 0635 I Company 
had moved off Hill 54 in column of platoons to advance along the edge of the 
woods north of the Horse. The enemy fired at Captain Johnson's company from 
two directions, with the machine guns and mortars emplaced on Hill 52 on 
the left, and with rifles from the woods on the right. Captain Johnson was 
forced to deploy an entire platoon to cover his right flank. The company estab- 
lished a base of fire on a small ridge about 200 yards southwest of Hill 54 and 
prepared to attack Hill 52. 28 While mortars and antitank guns struck Hill 52, 

20 Colonel Bush later declared that an artillery concentration on Hill 52, on which fire had been previously 
registered, should have been made an integral part of the attack plan. See 25th Div Opns, p. 33. 

27 Ibid., p. 34. Communication and control were otherwise fairly satisfactory on 10 January. The SCR 536 
and the sound-powered telephone operated efficiently in the open terrain. 

28 Interv with Col Bush, 5 Aug 46. 



268 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



I Company assaulted uphill, but the enemy machine guns and mortars stopped 
it 200 yards short of the objective. The attempted double envelopment thus 
failed on both flanks. 

Captain Johnson requested help at 0930. In view of this request and the 
impracticability of a southern flanking movement, Colonel Bush decided to 
commit K Company, and to shift his attack to the north to envelop Hill 52 
from the northeast and north. He ordered Capt. Ben F. Ferguson, command- 
ing K Company, to advance west beyond I Company to make a deeper envelop- 
ment. Slowed by rifle and machine-gun fire, K Company covered the 900 yards 
between its reserve position on Hill 54 and the north slopes of Hill 52 by 1300. 
While K Company was advancing along the edge of the woods, the heavy 
weapons on Hill 54 and L Company's 60-mm. mortars on Hill 51 continued to 
fire on Hill 52. 

Colonel Bush's final plan for the capture of the hill called for another 
envelopment. The holding force, I Company, was to attack from the north- 
east while K Company, with one rifle platoon from L and a machine gun 
platoon from M Company attached, enveloped the position from the north. 
L Company, holding Hill 51 with one platoon, was in reserve. The attack 
would be supported by field artillery fire, machine guns, mortars, and antitank 
guns. The assaulting units moved into position; by about 1400 Colonel Bush 
had determined the exact location of the assault companies, although the 
battalion command post on Hill 54 had been harassed by enemy rifle fire. The 
forward observer then called for artillery fire to be delivered on the crest of 
Hill 52, but a communication failure delayed the artillery until 1430. 29 

About noon, after the 3d Battalion's attack had bogged down, Colonel 
McCulloch had sent the air support commander forward to confer with Colonel 
Bush on Hill 54. The 3d Battalion commander had shown him the most likely 
targets on the Galloping Horse, and the air officer had agreed to bomb Hill 52 
at 1500 unless the hill had been captured by that time. An artillery smoke shell 
was to mark the target and indicate to the pilots that they were to execute the 
planned bombing mission. Bush's plan called for K Company to assault Hill 
52 before 1500, and had Hill 52 fallen before then, the planes were not to drop 
their bombs. By 1430, when the artillery was ready to fire the concentration on 
Hill 52, the planes were overhead. Colonel Bush decided to use the planes 
despite the fact that K Company would have to withdraw the right (western) 

29 Interv with Maj Mischa N. Kadick (former CO, Hq Co, 25th Div Arty), 9 Jan 47. 




27TH INFANTRY AREA, jo January 1943, as seen from the air. 



270 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



part of its deployed front, which lay along a prolongation of the bombing line, 
which ran from north to south. Delayed bomb releases would have endangered 
the troops. 

The planes bombed Hill 52 successfully; they spaced the depth charges 
well. 30 Not one fell on the east slope but all hit the reverse slope. Four charges 
exploded on the target, and two were duds. After the bombing four howitzer 
battalions put a 20-minute concentration on Hill 52. When the 105^ ceased 
firing, the 37-mm. guns and mortars fired in support of the infantry. 

Under cover of the 37-mm. and mortar fire, the infantrymen launched a 
co-ordinated attack. K Company had resumed its position on the north slopes 
of Hill 52. The platoon from L Company covered the gap between K and L 
The soldiers crawled close to the crest under cover of the supporting fire, then, 
with bayonets fixed, rushed and captured it. 31 By 1635 the 3d Battalion had 
cleaned out the enemy's positions on the western slopes, captured six machine 
guns which had survived the bombardment, killed thirty Japanese, and secured 
the hill. The battalion did not attack again that day but organized a cordon 
defense on Hill 52 for the night. 

The 25th Division, carrying out the most ambitious divisional offensive 
on Guadalcanal since the capture of the Lunga airfield, had made good progress 
in its first day of combat. The artillery fire had been especially effective. The 
1st Battalion, 27th Infantry, had reached the division objective in its zone. The 
3d Battalion, meeting heavier resistance, had advanced 1,600 yards toward its 
objective and captured Hills 50, 51, and 52. Over half the Galloping Horse 
was in American hands. Patrols from the 1st Battalion* had reached Hill 52 
to make contact with the 3d Battalion. Colonel Mitchell's 2d Battalion, 27th 
Infantry, in regimental reserve, occupied the Hill 50-51 area, and had estab- 
lished contact between the 3d Battalion, 27th Infantry, and the 3d Battalion, 
i82d Infantry, on the Matanikau. American casualties had been light. 32 It had 
not been necessary to commit the division reserve, the 161st Infantry. 
The Second Day 

The 3d Battalion of the 27th Infantry prepared to renew its attack toward 
Hill 53 on 11 January but was faced with a shortage of water. Very little drink- 

30 Colonel Bush had called for the artillery to fire a smoke shell to mark the crest of Hill 52 but the shell 
fell short just south of the hattalion observation post, 200 yards south of the battalion command post on Hill 
54. When the shell struck, Colonel Bush immediately ordered the Si -mm. mortars to mark the target with 
smoke. The pilots were not misled by the short shell, and all bombed the correct target. 25th Div Opns, p. 35. 

31 Interv with Col Bush, 5 Aug 46, 

3£ 27th Infantry casualties for January 43 were 74 killed in action, 226 wounded. 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE WEST FRONT 



2 7 I 



ing water had been brought forward to the 3d Battalion during its fight on 
10 January, which was a hot, sunny day. Springs and streams are usually plenti- 
ful in the Solomons, but there was then no running water on the Galloping 
Horse. Colonel Bush delayed his attack against Hill 53 on 11 January until 
after 0900 in the vain hope that water would reach his thirsty troops. The 
water point at the foot of Hill 55 was adequate and the supply officer had sent 
water up the trail but units in the rear had apparently diverted it before it 
could reach the soldiers in combat. aa As most of the soldiers of the 3d Battalion 
had entered combat with but one canteen of water, they had to attack on 11 
January carrying only the water which remained in their canteens from the 
previous day. 

Colonel Bush's plan for 11 January called for two companies to attack 
abreast after artillery bombardment. On the left I Company was to deploy on 
the ridge along the top of the gorge and attack southwest over the first ridge 
(Exton Ridge) west of Hill 52, to the next ridge (Sims Ridge) 200 yards away, 
while it secured its rear and left flank with one platoon. K Company, follow- 
ing, was to pass through I on Sims Ridge to take Hill 53 which lay 850 yards 
beyond Hill 52. On the right, L Company was to advance northwest from 
Hill 52 to that part of Hill 57 which lay in the 3d Battalion zone, make contact 
with the 1st Battalion, drive south to clear the woods between Hills 57 and 53, 
and make contact with K and I Companies. One machine gun platoon from 
M Company was to accompany each assault company; the 81-mm. mortars 
were to remain on Hill 54. Colonel Bush assigned eleven men from Head- 
quarters and M Companies to carry water to the advancing troops. 

Both assault companies moved off the right (north) end of Hill 52 after 
the artillery preparation. The security platoon of I Company reached a narrow 
bottleneck west of Hill 52 between two ridges. The rest of the company fol- 
lowed. When fire from Japanese mortars, machine guns; and rifles began to 
hit them, the soldiers halted. I Company requested that mortars and artillery 
put fire on the enemy but did not move forward nor maneuver to the enemy 
flanks. 34 Squeezed in the narrow gap, the company was hit repeatedly by 
mortar fire. Many spent and thirsty men collapsed. In one platoon only ten 

aa Major Joseph Ryneska, 27th Icif S— 4, later stated that water supply had not been thoroughly planned. 
25th Div Opns, p, 43. Colonel Bush stated afterward that the attack should have been delayed until water had 
arrived. Ibid., p. 35. 

84 3d Bn, 27th Inf, Activities, p. 2, asserts that I Company tried to maneuver but that fire from concealed 
positions halted it. Colonel Bush stated that it did not attempt maneuver. 25th Div Opns, p. 36. 



272 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



men were still conscious at noon. 35 Mortar fragments wounded Captain John- 
son about 1300, and he was evacuated. 

Also unsuccessful was L Company's attack. The lead platoon and one at- 
tached machine gun platoon cut through the ravine north of Hill 52 to secure 
the right flank. They turned west, and advanced to Hill 57, then turned left to 
climb the southeast slopes. When heavy machine-gun fire from the flanks and 
rear halted them, they dug in to await the main body, which did not arrive. 
When dusk fell the two platoons, out of communication with the battalion, 
returned to Hill 52. 36 The main body of L Company had not advanced, but had 
deployed behind I Company to hunt down scattered enemy riflemen. 

By midafternoon Colonel Bush felt certain that the 3d Battalion could 
not take its objective that day. Since the position reached by I Company was 
untenable, I and L Companies returned to Hill 52 for the night. After dusk 
the force which had been halted on Hill 57 also returned. Between 1500 and 
1600 accurate, heavy Japanese mortar fire forced the 3d Battalion to take cover, 
and delayed defensive preparations for the expected night attack. The enemy 
did make a slight effort to infiltrate the lines that night, but was repulsed by 
L Company. 

Colonel McCulloch ordered the exhausted 3d Battalion to go back to Hills 
55 and 54 into regimental reserve on the morning of 12 January, and Colonel 
Mitchell's 2d Battalion took over the assault against the ridges and Hill 53. 
Up to this time the 2d Battalion had held the rear areas taken by the 3d Bat- 
talion and had helped to carry supplies forward. The 1st Battalion of the 161st 
Infantry then took over the Hill 50-51 area. 
The Third Day 

Colonel Mitchell planned to attack on 12 Januar y to capture Hill 53 and 



that part of Hill 57 which lay in his zone. {Map XV) The attack was to be de- 
livered from Hill 52 with two companies abreast. F would be on the left, G 
on the right, and E in reserve. F Company was to capture Hill 53, while G 
Company moved to the right to join with the 1st Battalion on Hill 57. H Com- 
pany was to emplace its heavy machine guns and 81-mm. mortars on Hill 52. 
Artillery and aerial bombardments were to support the infantry's attacks. 

35 3d Bn, 27th Inf ? Activities, p. 2. 

ae Colonel Bush said later that I Company should have attempted to move even without water; leaders 
had not exerted themselves sufficiently. 25th Div Opns, p. 36. On 5 August 1946, Colonel Bush stated that when 
Ys advance was hatted, L should have moved to the right behind its leading platoon. The leading platoon had 
lost communication; otherwise he would have ordered it to hold its ground. 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE WEST FRONT 



2 73 



After a preliminary bombardment both assault companies moved out of 
the cordon defense on Hill 52 at 0630, 12 January. On the right G Company 
advanced to the north and west. Some enemy riflemen in the woods north of 
Hill 52 opened fire but were hunted down by patrols from G Company. As 
the company moved west Japanese in the jungle north of Sims Ridge opened 
fire, but G Company continued its march and by noon had made contact with 
the 1st Battalion on Hill 57. 

G Company was the only unit which reached its objective on 12 January. 
In general, vigorous Japanese resistance halted the 2d Battalion's advance. At 
the beginning of the day the Japanese were occupying Exton Ridge, and Sims 
Ridge 200 yards west of Exton; Hill 53 southwest of Hill 52; the jungle north 
of Sims; and the shallow dip between Exton and Sims Ridges. Enemy machine 
guns covered all approaches, and the steep precipice above the southwest 
Matanikau fork prevented F and E Companies from enveloping the enemy 
from the south. 37 

F Company attacked Exton Ridge but moved too far to the right and ex- 
posed the battalion's left flank. By then the Japanese had pulled off Exton 
Ridge and F Company took it quickly but could advance no farther toward 
Hill 53. Colonel Mitchell then committed his reserve, E Company, to F's left 
to cover the battalion's south (left) flank, but E Company also failed to advance 
beyond Exton Ridge. 38 Fire from Sims Ridge held both companies in place. 
Colonel Mitchell decided to envelop Sims Ridge. He withdrew F Company 
from Exton and ordered it to move to the right to attack Sims Ridge from 
the north. E Company continued its attack but failed to progress. When F 
Company attacked southward against Sims it was able to capture the north 
slopes, but about halfway to the crest it was halted by an enemy strong point 
that was dug in on the reverse (west) slope. At first the soldiers could not 
locate the position which machine guns were defending from all sides. Mean- 
while E Company, trying to advance over Exton, in avoiding enemy fire had 
moved to the right and partly intermingled with F Company. 

To give closer support to the assault companies, H Company then moved 
its heavy machine guns to Exton Ridge. 39 On Sims Ridge the infantry sought 
out the enemy strong point. Capt. Charles W. Davis, the battalion executive 

87 25th Div. Opns, pp. 38 and 45. 

88 Interv with Col. Herbert V. Mitchell (former CO, 2d Bn, 27th Inf), 9 Aug 46. 

80 While Lt. Robert M. Exton was firing a machine gun on this ridge, an enemy mortar shell blew off his 
legs. Soldiers attempted to give him first aid* but, dying, he ordered them not to waste time. Ibid. 



274 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



officer, with Capt. Paul K. Mellichamp and Lt. Weldon Sims crawled down the 
east side of the ridge behind a waist-high shelf, a natural approach. When 
Lieutenant Sims exposed himself above the shelf, a Japanese machine gunner 
shot him fatally through the chest. His companions then pulled his body down 
and returned to the 2d Battalion lines. 40 

When the strong point was thus approximately located, American machine 
guns and mortars opened fire while the infantry made one more effort to over- 
come the enemy. Captain Davis crawled behind the shelf close to the strong 
point and radioed firing data to H Company's 81-mm. mortar squads. As both 
he and the men of E and F Companies were then less than fifty yards from the 
enemy the exploding shells showered dirt, rock chips, and fragments among 
them, but failed to destroy the enemy position. 41 The enemy machine guns 
were still in action and kept the American infantry in place. 

Meanwhile Colonel Mitchell had left the battalion command post on Hill 
52 to join the assault companies on Sims Ridge. As the Japanese and Americans 
on Sims Ridge were within grenade-throwing distance of each other, he de- 
cided not to use 81-mm. mortars. The 1st Battalion mortar sections on the 
north end of Hill 57 offered to fire at troops visible to them on Sims, but Colonel 
Mitchell feared that the troops were his own and declined. By the time the 
last attacks by E and F Companies had been halted halfway to the objective, 
the day was nearly gone. 

By late afternoon the two companies had exhausted their drinking water; 
the men were on the verge of collapsing. They organized an all-round defense 
on the north slopes of Sims Ridge in anticipation of a Japanese night counter- 
attack. Colonel Mitchell decided to spend the night with the troops on Sims 
Ridge instead of returning to the battalion command post on Hill 52, for the 
regimental executive officer was then at the command post and could act in 
emergencies. 42 

During the day the 8th Field Artillery Battalion had fired the seventeen 
concentrations requested by Colonel Mitchell. Together with its supporting 
battalions, the 8th also adjusted fire on Hill 53 in preparation for the next 
day's assault. 

The Japanese did not attack the 2d Battalion that night, but they did 

40 ibid. 

41 25th Div Opns, p. 46; note by Davis enclosed in personal hr, Brig Gen W. P. Shcpard to Col John M. 
Kemper, Hist Div, WDSS, 6 Dec 46. A copy of the note is in the files of the Hist Div, SSUSA. 

* 2 Interv with Col Mitchell, 9 Aug 46. 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE WEST FRONT 



275 



succeed in cutting the telephone line between Colonel Mitchell and Hill 52. 43 
Some of the American soldiers, facing the Japanese for the first time at night, 
fired indiscriminately in the enemy's direction. 
Fourth Day 

The 2d Battalion's attack plan for 13 January called for E Company to 
continue the attack against Sims Ridge from the north. At the same time F 
Company was to withdraw from the ridge and advance along a covered route 
between the jungle and the Horse's neck to attack the north end of Hill 53. 
H Company was to maintain the base of fire on Hill 52 and Exton Ridge. 

E Company attacked as ordered but was immediately halted by machine- 
gun fire from the strong point. Six volunteers from F Company then worked 
their way to within twenty-five yards of the strong point, but two were killed 
by machine-gun fire and the survivors withdrew. 

The short distance separating the Japanese from the Americans on Sims 
Ridge protected the Japanese from 60-mm. mortar fire. E and F Companies 
fired their 60-mm. mortars from the north end of Sims Ridge but the range 
was too short and the enemy position too high up to make such firing effec- 
tive. The 60-mm. squads moved back and fired repeatedly to hit the strong 
point. They shortened the range until the barrels pointed almost vertically, 
but they still could not hit the target. For safety's sake Mitchell ordered the 
60-mm. mortars to cease firing. 

Colonel Mitchell and the battalion executive officer then devised a plan 
to break the stalemate. The colonel took part of E Company down Sims Ridge 
behind the shelf on the east slope to a point directly east of the enemy. Mean- 
while Captain Davis, the executive, and the four survivors of the party which 
had previously approached the strong point crawled and wriggled their way 
southward down the west slope close to the enemy position. They were to 
neutralize the strong point with grenades to prepare the way for Colonel 
Mitchell's unit to assault from the east on Davis' whistle signal. 

The five men had crawled to within ten yards of the position when the 
Japanese hurled grenades at them. Although their aim was accurate, the 
grenades failed to explode. The Americans replied with eight grenades which 
did explode, then sprang up to rush the enemy, some of whom fled. Captain 
Davis' rifle jammed after one round. He threw it away, drew his pistol, and 
the five men leaped among the surviving Japanese and finished them with 

43 Colonel Mitchell had wished to effect a surprise night attack, but Regimental headquarters forbade it. 

Ibid. 



276 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



rifles and pistols. E Company witnessed this bold rush and, in the words of 
General Collins who observed the day's fighting and helped to direct mortar 
fire from Hill 52, "came to life" and drove uphill to sweep the last Japanese 
from Sims Ridge. 44 For his gallant action, Captain Davis later received the 
Medal of Honor. 45 

Like the 3d Battalion on 11 January, the 2d Battalion had received almost 
no water after it attacked on 12 January, and thirst might well have caused 
the 13 January attack to stall. But shortly after E Company had cleared Sims 
Ridge a quick heavy cloudburst soaked the earth and cooled the soldiers who 
were able to obtain a little water from standing pools and by wringing their 
clothes. The amount they obtained, though scanty, proved sufficient to sustain 
them. 46 

While F Company was moving along its covered route, three field ar- 
tillery battalions put fire on Hill 53. When the artillery fire ceased both 
companies (F and E) attacked Hill 53* E Company advanced south and west 
along Sims Ridge to seize the high ground on the top of the Horse's head, and 
F Company emerged from the jungle to attack the head from the north. The 
infantrymen capitalized on the shock effect of the artillery by attacking im- 
mediately after it stopped firing. 47 The 2d Battalion found that organized 
Japanese resistance had ceased. 48 By 1030 the 2d Battalion had captured all 
but the southwest tip of Hill 53; by noon it had taken the entire hill and reached 
the division's objective in its zone. 49 

E Company destroyed a Japanese 70-mm. gun on Hill 53, and captured 
a number of rifles, grenade dischargers, machine guns, and some ammunition. 
Colonel Mitchell's battalion, in two days of action, had lost two officers and 
twenty-nine enlisted men killed, and had killed an estimated 170 Japanese 
soldiers from the 228th and 230th Infantry Regiments, 38th Division. A few 
of the enemy dead wore good clothes and had been in good physical condi- 
tion, but the remainder were ragged and half-starved. 50 

G Company, which had made contact with the 1st Battalion on Hill 57 

44 25th Div Opns, pp. 38, 46; imerv with Col Mitchell, 9 Aug 46. 

45 WD GO No. 40, 17 Jul 43. 

49 Interv with Col Mitchell, 9 Aug 46. 

47 25th Div Opns, p. 41. 

48 Col H. V. Mitchell, Notes, 2d Bn v 27th Inf. Colonel Mitchell lent these notes to the author, who had 
them copied for the Hist Div, SSUSA files. 

49 25th Div Journal, 13 Jan 43; 27th Inf Periodic Rpt, 14 Jan 43, in misc docs from USAF1SPA. 
s0 25th Div G-2 Journal, 14 Jan 43; 27th Inf Periodic Rpt, 14 Jan 43. 




FINAL ATTACKS ON THE GALLOPING HORSE were supported by howitzers of the 
zd Battalion, wth Marines (above) as the 27th Infantry cleaned out the enemy from positions 
such as the one below, dug into the coral roc\ hillside and camouflaged with \unai grass 
laid over a stk\ framewor^. 




278 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



on 12 January, sent one platoon to cover the low-flying jungle area between 
Hills 57 and 53. The next day the 2d Battalion cut a trail from Hill 53 to Hill 57. 

By nightfall of 13 January the western American lines on Guadalcanal 
extended 4,500 yards inland (south) from Point Cruz across Hill 66 to Hills 
57 and 53, The 27th Infantry had taken all its objectives, pocketed the enemy 
in the river gorges, and was firmly seated on the Galloping Horse, waiting for 
the 35th Infantry to complete its longer advance to the division's objective in 
its zone to the south. From 15 to 22 January the 161st Infantry, in a series of 
sharp fights, cleaned out the Japanese positions south of the Galloping 
Horse in the gorge of the southwest Matanikau fork. 51 During this period the 
27th Infantry fought no more major actions, but mopped up the Japanese 
remaining in the jungled gorge north of the Galloping Horse, built defense 
positions, constructed roads, and patrolled to the west to prepare for the next 
assault. 

The Coastal Offensive 

The 2d Marine Division, holding the Hill 66-Point Cruz line on the coast 
on the right of the 25th Division's zone of action, remained in place during 
the first three days of the Galloping Horse action. On 12 January the Marine 
division received orders from General Patch to begin its advance westward 
from the Hill 66-Point Cruz line. 

This attack, which was to be supported by Americal and 2d Marine Divi- 
sion artillery and the 2d Marine Air Wing, was the 2d Division's first operation 
as a complete division. The only fresh infantry regiment in the division was 
the 6th Marines, which had landed on Guadalcanal on 4 January 1943. The 
2d Marines* which had landed in the Guadalcanal-Tulagi area on 7 August 
1942, by January was overdue for relief. The 8th Marines, which had arrived in 
November, had also taken part in several engagements. In December 1942 the 
2d and 8th Marines had relieved the weary 164th and i82d Regiments west 
of the Matanikau, and in January the 6th Marines had begun relieving the 
2d and 8th Marines while those units were in contact with the enemy. Two 
battalions of the 2d Marines participated in the attack of 13 January and with- 
drew to the Lunga perimeter defense the next day. The 8th Marines remained 
in action until 17 January. 

51 1 6 1 st Inf Mist, 30 Dec 42—1 Jul 43, p, 1 ; 25th Div Opns, p. 121. 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE WEST FRONT 



279 



Japanese soldiers from the 2d Division were then holding the coast sector. 
In some areas, especially in the wooded ravine just west of the Point Cruz-Hill 
66 line, their defenses were very strong. As in November and December enemy 
machine guns at the head (south end) of each draw were able to pour flanking 
fire into advancing American troops. 

The enemy's ravine defenses determined the 2d Marine Division's plan 
of attack. The assault was to be delivered in successive echelons from left to 
right. The units on the left were to move forward to knock out the enemy 
weapons at the head of each draw, thus clearing space through which the units 
on the right could maneuver/ 2 



The 2d Marines opened the attack at 0500, 13 January. {Map XVI) By 0730 
the regiment had moved 800 yards west from Hill 66, at a cost of 6 killed and 
61 wounded. 53 At noon the 6th Marines moved forward to relieve the 2d. 

Ten minutes after the 2d Marines had jumped off, the leading units of the 
8th Marines on the right of the 2d began the attack. They moved from the 
east slopes of Hills 80 and 81 toward the ravine to the west. The Japanese in 
the ravines stopped the move with machine-gun, mortar, and rifle fire. Thus 
at the end of the first day the left flank units of the 2d Marine Division had 
advanced, but the attack in the center had been halted. The 8th Marines tried 
again on 14 January but failed to gain. 

The regiment brought up tanks on 15 January to crack the Japanese em- 
placements, but failed to achieve much success. In the afternoon the marines 
brought a flamethrower forward to use it in action for the first time. The 
flamethrower burned out one Japanese emplacement ten minutes after its 
two-man operating team reached the front, and burned out two more em- 
placements later in the day. 54 

By the end of 17 January the 8th Marines had cleared out the ravine to 
its front and had advanced its line forward beside the 6th Marines on the left. 
In five days of fighting the 2d Marine Division had gained about 1,500 yards. 
It reported that it had killed 643 Japanese and captured 2 prisoners, 41 grenade 
dischargers, 57 light and 14 heavy machine guns, 3 75-mm. field pieces, plus 
small arms, mines, and a quantity of artillery ammunition. 55 

62 2d Mar Div D-3 Periodic Rpt, 14 Jan 43. XIV Corps G-3 Journal. 
53 Ltr, Col Arthur to USMC Hist Sec, 1 1 Oct 45. 

s * 8th Mar Unit Rpt ; 16 Jan 43. XIV Corp G-3 Journal. On 15 January 43 flame throwers were first used 
in action on the beach and at the Gifu. The marine operators had been instructed by Amer Div CWS section. 
See ltr, Lt Col John M. Coflman, USMC, to Editor, Marine Corps Gazette, July 1943 (XXIX. 7). 

65 XIV Corps G—2 Summary, 19 Jan 42. 



280 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



By 1 8 January, when the 8th Marines were withdrawn, American troops 
were holding a continuous line from Hill 53 north to the coast. It reached 
the beach at a point some 1,500 yards west of Point Cruz. The XIV Corps had 
gained a position from which it could start its drive into Kokumbona, long 
a major objective. This drive was begun just before the 35th Infantry of the 
25th Division completed its task on Mount Austen. 



CHAPTER XII 



XIV Corps' First January Offensive: 
The South Flank 

While the 27th Infantry had been making spectacular gains over the open 
hills of the Galloping Horse, the 35th Infantry of the 25th Division was heavily 
engaged in its zone, which included Mount Austen and the hilly, jungled areas 
south of the southwest Matanikau fork. Except for the open hills previously 
taken by the i32d Infantry, there was only one extensive piece of open ground 
in the 35th's zone. This ground, formed by Hills 43 and 44, was named the Sea 
Horse from its appearance in an aerial photograph. 

Lying about 1,500 yards northwest of Hill 27 and about 1,500 yards east 
of the objective line, the Sea Horse dominated the low ground along the 
Matanikau. As capture of the Sea Horse would bottle the Japanese along the 
Matanikau and its forks, the 35th Infantry decided to capture the Sea Horse 
first, and then to advance to the objective in its zone. Like the Galloping Horse, 
the Sea Horse is also isolated by river forks, deep canyons, and solid jungle. 
The best route to the Sea Horse lay over Mount Austen, south of the Gifu, and 
through the jungle to the south end of Hill 43. 

The task of the 35th Infantry in the Corps offensive was fourfold: to re- 
lieve the i32d Infantry at the Gifu, to capture the Sea Horse, to cover the 
Corps' left flank, and to push west to seize and hold the objective in its zone, 
a line south of the head of the Galloping Horse about 3,000 yards west of 
Mount Austen. For this operation the 3d Battalion of the i82d Infantry, com- 
manded by Lt. CoL Roy F. Goggin, and the 25th Division's Cavalry Recon- 
naissance Troop were attached to the 35th Infantry. 

Colonel McClure, commanding the 35th Infantry, ordered the 2d Battalion 
and the Reconnaissance Troop to relieve the i32d Infantry at the Gifu and to 
press against that strong point and keep in touch with Goggin's battalion on 
the right. The 3d Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. William J. Mullen, Jr., 
was to advance southwest from Hill 27 (south of the Gifu on Mount Austen), 




THE SEA HORSE, Hills 43 and 44, lies just west of the Matani\au River from Mount 
Austen and southeast of the Galloping Horse, of which Hill 50 is a part. The head of the Sea 
Horse is Hill 43; the nec\ extends north to Hill 44, the body. 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE SOUTH FLANK 



and then swing north to seize Hills 43 and 44. Lt. Col, James B. Leer's 1st 
Battalion was to be initially in regimental reserve, following about a half day's 
march behind the 3d Battalion. The 3d Battalion, i82d Infantry, was to protect 
the 25th Division's artillery positions on the open ground north of Mount 
Austen and east of the Matanikau by advancing south from Hill 65 to block 
the river gorge and the ravine between Hills 31 and 42 against Japanese in- 
filtration. The battalion was to maintain contact with the 27th and 35th Regi- 
ments on either flank. 1 

The 35th Infantry's attacks, if successful, would pocket the enemy in the 
Gifu and in the ravines and valleys of the Matanikau forks. The 3d Battalion, 
by attacking the Sea Horse from the south, would attempt to encircle the right 
flank of the Japanese and cut off their lines of supply and retreat. The final 
movement of the 35th Infantry west from Hill 43 to the objective, where the 
southeast Matanikau fork cuts southward, would complete the trap. 

Wright Road, the jeep track from the coast road to Mount Austen, had 
been extended forward to a point just east of the i32d Infantry's line at the 
Gifu, but no lateral roads then connected Wright Road with Marine Trail on 
the Matanikau's east bank. In the initial operations, Wright Road was to 
supply the four battalions under Colonel McClure's command plus the sup- 
porting artillery. The absence of enemy tanks in the 35th Infantry's zone, 
coupled with the difficulty of moving infantry cannon over jungle ridges, obvi- 
ated the immediate tactical employment of the 35th Infantry's Antitank and 
Cannon Companies. Soldiers from these companies were not to be committed 
to action for the present, but with 300 native bearers were to hand-carry sup- 
plies forward from the terminus of Wright Road. When the American lines 
were pushed south along the Matanikau after 10 January, soldiers floated sup- 
plies in and evacuees out on pole and motor barges and boats between Hill 50 
and the mouth. The boat operators used some captured enemy assault boats, 
and engineers constructed two barges from gasoline drums. Although they 
used some outboard motors, they called the line the "Pusha Maru." 

Taking of the Sea Horse 

Advancing to their lines of departure was considerably more difficult for 
the battalions of the 35th Infantry than for those of the 27th. The 35th In- 

1 25th Div Opns, p. 69. 




THE "PUSHA MARU" was a supplementary supply line, employing American (left) and 
some Japanese boats on the Matani\au River. 




THE ENVELOPMENT OF THE SEA HORSE too\ troops of the 3d Battalion, 35 th 
Infantry, through rugged jungle where no trails existed. The scene above is a typical example 
of the dense growth. 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE SOUTH FLANK 



285 



fantry, having pulled out of the Lunga perimeter defense on 7 January, the 
next day marched up Wright Road to Mount Austen in column of battalions, 
with the 3d Battalion leading. While the 2d Battalion moved into line at the 
Gifu, the 3d Battalion, followed by the 1st, cut south and west through the 
jungle south of the Gifu to bivouac for the night of 8-9 January on a small 
ridge about 700 yards south of Hill 27. (Map XVII)\ The mortar sections of these 



battalions remained at the Gifu, but the light machine guns were carried along 
during the advance. The next day the 3d Battalion marched over slippery 
ravines and ridges to its line of departure, a small knoll about 1,500 yards south- 
west of Hill 27, and about 2,000 yards southeast of Hill 43. The 1st Battalion 
moved west to occupy the bivouac held by the 3d Battalion on the previous 
night. These movements were made in secret, for success of the 3d Battalion's 
attack depended upon surprise. To avoid warning the enemy of the impending 
attack, there were to be no preliminary artillery or aerial bombardments in 
the 35th Infantry's zone. 

From the 3d Battalion's bivouac area Colonel Mullen was able to see a 
small wooded hill, a short distance south of Hill 43. From direct observation 
and photographic study he concluded that a narrow ridge connected the small 
hill with Hill 43. He decided to capture the small hill first since it would pro- 
vide a good route to the grassy slopes of Hills 43 and 44. 2 

At H Hour, 0635 of 10 January 1943, while the 27th Infantry was begin- 
ning its attack, the 3d Battalion began its envelopment. Fearing that the 
enemy might have observed his troops, Colonel Mullen kept I Company, the 
battalion reserve, spread out over the bivouac area to deceive the Japanese while 
the assault companies, K and L, formed in the dense woods prior to attacking. 
By 0800 K and L Companies were ready to move. 3 Patrols on the previous night 
had reconnoitered in front of the bivouac area to feel out the Japanese. Relying 
on data from these patrols, the battalion pushed southwest through the jungle. 
Advancing in column of companies, the battalion then turned north toward 
the Sea Horse. K Company, leading, cut a trail for about 1,000 yards with 
machetes and bayonets, but its route led it down onto low ground along a 
branch of the Matanikau. At noon it reached a small knoll about 700 yards 
southeast of Hill 43. The company was then on ground that was dominated 
by ridges and bluffs on all sides. 

The battalion had turned northward too soon, and it was now southeast 

3 Ibid., p. 73. 

8 0800 is the rime shown in 25th Div Opn Overlays, 0600, 10 Jan-0600, 1 1 Jan. 43. 



286 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



instead of southwest of Hill 43. The assault companies had to advance farther 
west before they could envelop the south flank of the Sea Horse. 4 As hills, deep 
ravines, and a branch of the Matanikau lay between K Company and Hill 43, 
patrols advanced to the west and northwest, and one found a faint trail that 
led westward. 

The 35th Infantry then requested that artillery fire be placed on the Sea 
Horse. At 1300 the battalion commander ordered K Company to advance over 
the west trail. L Company, also following an old trail, was to advance on K's 
left. I Company, which had been relieved at the line of departure by the 1st 
Battalion, was to follow the assault company that found the best route. Colonel 
Mullen, who wished his battalion to reach the greater security of high ground 
before dark, ordered that the advance be pressed vigorously. 

K Company turned west and, to cover its right flank while crossing a 
branch of the Matanikau, posted two light machine guns from M Company, 
plus some riflemen, on a knoll. The covering force faced to the northeast 
toward the gorge cut by the branch. As the company crossed the branch, a 
group of Japanese from the area of Colonel Oka's command post farther down 
the river attacked toward the southwest and nearly broke through to strike 
the company's right flank. They drove off the riflemen, knocked one machine 
gun out of action, and killed the gunner and wounded the assistant gunner of 
the second. They were prevented from hitting the flank of the vulnerable 
company by the heroism of two soldiers from M Company — Sgt. William G. 
Fournier, the machine gun section leader, and T/5 Lewis Hall. Although 
ordered to withdraw, the two men ran forward to the idle gun and opened fire 
on the Japanese, who were then in the low stream bottom in front of and 
below them. As the gun on the knoll would not bear, Fournier lifted it by its 
tripod to depress the muzzle sufficiently to fire on the Japanese while Hall 
operated the trigger. Both soldiers stayed at their exposed post, pouring fire 
at the Japanese, and were fatally wounded before other Americans could come 
forward, 5 But Fournier and Hall had broken the Japanese attack, and for their 
gallantry were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. 6 

As the assaulting American companies were advancing to the west, K 
Company surprised a Japanese supply party near a water hole at the junction 

* 25th Div Opn Overlay io-i i Jan 43, and General Collins' statement in 25th Div Opns, p. 100. 
5 Ltr, Lt Col William J. Mullen to author, (no sub), 24 Feb 48; intervs with Col Larsen and Lt Col 
fames B. Leer, 20 Oct 47. 

e WD GO No. 28, 5 Jan 43. 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE SOUTH FLANK 



287 



of two trails, killed seven, and dispersed the rest. 7 Having then reached a point 
about due south of Hill 43, the companies swung northward toward their pre- 
liminary objective, the wooded hill south of Hill 43. Only a few scattered 
Japanese were in front, and they failed to offer any effective opposition. By 
1700 K and L Companies had reached high ground 400 yards south of the 
open slopes on Hill 43. As dusk was falling rapidly, the 3d Battalion, which 
to gain high ground had kept moving much later in the afternoon than was 
considered advisable in the jungle, halted and hastily dug in for the night. 8 

While the 3d Battalion was advancing toward the Sea Horse, Colonel Leer's 
rst Battalion, in reserve, moved farther west. Patrols from A and C Companies 
covered the right and left flanks. Platoons of B and D Companies relieved I 
Company at the water hole in a gulch about 600 yards south of Hill 43. 

Colonel Mullen's battalion resumed the attack against the Sea Horse at 
dawn on 11 January. K Company led the attack north along the ridge toward 
Hill 43, while L Company covered the left flank and I followed in reserve. 
The progress of K Company was slow against enemy machine gunners who 
fired to delay the attack, then fell back to new positions. In one hour it gained 
only 100 yards. 9 The advance gathered speed later in the .afternoon, however, 
and the 3d Battalion emerged from the jungle, drove the enemy off Hill 43, 
and by 1831 had advanced to Hill 44. 10 

Meanwhile Colonel Leer's battalion had come forward to assist the 3d 
Battalion when its advance was retarded. But when K Company cleared Hill 
43, and it became evident that the 3d Battalion would reach its objective un- 
aided, Colonel McClure ordered the 1st Battalion to relieve I and L Companies 
on the south and southwest wooded parts of Hill 43. When relieved those com- 
panies joined the remainder of the 3d Battalion on the Sea Horse. 11 By nightfall 
on 11 January, the 35th Infantry had completed the encirclement of the Gifu on 
the east and west by seizing the Sea Horse, and had progressed halfway toward 
its objective, about 1,500 yards west of the Sea Horse. 

In their southerly envelopment around the enemy's right flank the 3d and 
1st Battalions had traveled more than 7,000 yards. Their route had taken them 
over Mount Austen's ravines and ridges, down its west slopes to the Matanikau, 

I 35th Inf Journal, 10 Jan 43, in misc docs from USAFISPA. 

8 25th Div Opns, p. 71 ; intervs with Cols Larsen and Leer. 

9 35th Inf Journal, 1 1 Jan 43. 

10 25th Div G-2 Journal, 11 Jan 43. 

II 25th Div Opns, pp. 71, 76. 



288 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



and up the Sea Horse. The trails they had followed were passable only for 
men on foot; vehicles could not get through. The advancing battalions had 
depended upon native carriers for supply pending the completion of dredging 
for the Pusha Maru boat line on the Matanikau. The 7,000-yard advance of the 
1st and 3d Battalions had outdistanced the native bearers who could not make 
the round trip in one day, and thus created a serious problem of supply. Until 
the native camp could be moved forward and the Pusha Maru boat line could 
be completed, the regiment's advanced battalions were supplied by air drops 
from B-17's. As cargo parachutes were not available for all gear, some supplies 




MAP NO. 11 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE SOUTH FLANK 



289 



were wrapped in burlap or canvas and thrown from the bombers. On 13 Janu- 
ary one B-17 dropped 7,000 pounds in four flights, and two days later another 
dropped four tons. Rations stood the rough treatment fairly well; 85 percent 
of the food was usable, but only 15 percent of the ammunition could be used, 
and nearly all the 5-gallon water cans were ruined. Regular ground supply was 
not resumed until 17 January when the Pusha Maru reached the foot of Hill 
50, and carriers began hauling supplies up the north slopes of Hill 44. 12 
Advance West from the Sea Horse 

When L and I Companies had reached the Sea Horse Colonel Mullen 
organized a perimeter defense, with L Company holding Hill 44, I Company 
the narrow neck between 44 and 43, and K Company, Hill 43. On the morning 
of 12 January the 3d Battalion made contact with the forces which had just 
taken the eastern half of the Galloping Horse. 13 

Colonel Leer's 1st Battalion assumed the brunt of the attack west to the 
objective on 12 January. (Map 11) B Company defended the hill south of 
Hill 43, A Company the water hole, while C Company attacked along a narrow 
ridge southwest of Hill 43. Enemy fire from a ridge about 150 yards to the 
southwest halted the advance. 14 

While patrols from C Company were seeking the enemy flanks, an enemy 
force from east of Hill 43 struck just south of Hill 43 against the supply trail 
and isolated the 3d Battalion on the Sea Horse. At 1730 one B Company platoon 
counterattacked and by nightfall it had recaptured the trail. 

Japanese rifle fire again stopped C Company on 13 January. The 64th Field 
Artillery Battalion meanwhile continued registration on enemy targets, f and 
Colonel Leer asked regimental headquarters to send forward to Hill 43 the mor- 
tars which were then on Mount Austen under regimental control. 

Operations on 14 January again failed to gain ground. C Company attacked 
the enemy ridge twice without success. The terrain slowed the movement of the 
mortars, which failed to reach Hill 43 until late afternoon. In the afternoon, how- 
ever, one of Colonel Leer's patrols found a route around the enemy's right flank. 

The next morning B Company relieved C Company. The 64th Field Artillery 
Battalion then fired 553 rounds on the Japanese on the ridge in a 30-minute con- 
centration ending at 1005, 15 followed by fire from machine guns and mortars. 

12 Guadalcanal and the Thirteenth Air Force, p. 154. 
18 25th Div Opn Overlay, 1 1-12 Jan 43. 

14 25th Div Opns, p. 77. 

15 64th FA Bn Hist, Jan— Jun 43, p. 3. 



290 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



When the artillery ceased firing B Company, reinforced by one platoon from D, 
moved around the enemy's right flank and struck him in the rear. B Company 
killed thirteen Japanese and captured twelve prisoners; it also took two 70-mm. 
guns, three light machine guns, and a quantity of ammunition. B Company had 
penetrated an enemy bivouac area with room for an estimated 1,000 troops. It 
was then occupied by one platoon. The platoon had no rations; six of the prisoners 
were too weak to walk, and there were seventy-eight graves in the area. 16 Since 
daylight was ending, B Company halted for the night. 

The defunct enemy platoon had been the only effective enemy force between 
the Sea Horse and the objective in the 35th Infantry's zone. The next day, 16 
January, B Company and the reinforcing platoon from D Company moved west 
to the objective without fighting. About 1500 they reached a precipice overlooking 
the southwest fork of the Matanikau. So dense was the jungle that the troops 
could not determine their exact location until the next day, and on 18 January 
they built smoky fires and fired amber flares to reveal their location to the 25th 
Division observation posts. 17 

In capturing the Sea Horse and advancing to the Matanikau, the 1st Bat- 
talion reported that it had killed 144 of the enemy; the 3d Battalion, 414. Enemy 
prisoners totaled 17 for both battalions. The 3d Battalion had captured 35 light 
and heavy machine guns, the 1st Battalion, 9 light machine guns. The 1st Bat- 
talion had also captured 112 rifles and 18 pistols, while the 3d Battalion took 266 
rifles and 26 pistols. 18 In the days following the capture of Hills 43 and 44 the 3d 
Battalion reduced a pocket of Japanese along the Matanikau just east of Hills 43 
and 44. 19 The capture of the Sea Horse and the advance to the Matanikau had 
covered the XIV Corps' left (south) flank, and brought the 35th Infantry up to 
the objective on the left (south) of the 27th Infantry. 

Reduction of the Gifu 

Preliminary Operations 

While the rest of the 25th Division was advancing, the 2d Battalion of the 
35th Infantry on Mount Austen had the slow, grueling task of clearing the Jap- 
anese out of the Gifu which had halted the i32d Infantry in December. 

ia 25th Div Opns, pp. 72, 77. 

17 35th Inf Journal, 18 Jan 43; 25th Div Opns, p. 77. 

18 Rpt, CO 35th Inf to CG 25th Div, 27 Jan 43, in 25th Div FO's in misc drvs from USAFISPA. 

19 Interv with Lt Gen J. Lawton Collins (former CG, 25th Div), 5 Dec 46. 




CAPTURE OF THE SEA HORSE brought the 33th Infantry half way to its objective on 
the left flan\ of the American forces. With the exception of a small enemy force still holding 
out in the Gifu, all territory east of the Matani\au ( center of picture above ) was clear of 
Japanese. 




JAPANESE POSITIONS IN THE GIFU were well camouflaged and difficult to locate in 
the dense jungle. Log-roofed, covered with earth and vegetation, the boulder-screened hole 
at left was a machine gun position, the one at lower right a foxhole. Picture ta\en after the 
fall of the Gifu. 



292 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



The 2d Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Ernest Peters, had left its positions 
east of the Lunga River on 7 January, and early the next morning had followed 
the 3d Battalion up Mount Austen to advance toward the i32d Infantry's lines. 
Battalion Headquarters, G, and H Companies were to infiltrate directly into the 
I32d's line while E and F Companies followed a back trail south of Hill 27 to 
get into line via the latter hilL 20 The main body, following Wright Road, reached 
the line without difficulty, but E and F Companies had to labor through thick 
jungle. The companies followed the 3d Battalion to a point about 800 yards 
southeast of Hill 27, then turned northwest toward Hill 27. Struggling over a 
rough, muddy trail, and using telephone wires to help pull themselves along, they 
reached Hill 27 by nightfall of 8 January and bivouacked on its southeast slopes. 

The next day, 9 January, the 2d Battalion and the Cavalry Reconnaissance 
Troop completed the relief of the i32d Infantry, which returned to the Lunga 
perimeter. By nightfall the 2d Battalion of the 35th Infantry had occupied the 
line from Hill 31 to Hill 27, a front of over 2,000 yards. {Map 12) E Company, 
the 35th Infantry's Reconnaissance Platoon, and a platoon from the Reconnais- 
sance Troop held Hill 27; F Company, plus platoons from H Company and the 
Reconnaissance Troop, held the center; G Company and platoons from H Com- 
pany and the Reconnaissance Troop held Hill 31. The remainder of H Company 
emplaced mortars on Hill 29. Soldiers from Headquarters Company were to 
carry supplies from the jeep terminus on Wright Road to the companies in the 
line. There was no battalion reserve. 21 By the end of 9 January, a day characterized 
by random rifle fire and some mortar shelling, the 2d Battalion estimated that 
over 100 Japanese with 10 machine guns held the pocket. 

When General Collins and Colonel McClure had first observed the Gifu 
from Hill 27, they had discussed the possibility of enveloping it from the west 
sides of Hills 27 and 31. Persuaded that the terrain was impassable, they agreed 
on a frontal assault to hold the Japanese while the 3d and 1st Battalions made 
their flanking movement. Time would have been saved had the double envelop- 
ment been attempted at once. 22 

On io January, when the 25th Division began its advance, the 2d Battalion 
made a reconnaissance in force. After an artillery and mortar preparation two 
combat patrols from each company tried to move forward but Japanese fire halted 
them all The battalion commander then requested that tanks be sent up to 

40 25th Div Opns, p. 79. 

21 Ibid., p. 80. 

22 General Collins' statement in 25th Div Opns, p. 102. 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE SOUTH FLANK 



293 




MAP NO. 12 

Mount Austen to crack the pillbox line, but the only tanks on Guadalcanal were 
then under Marine control. 23 After the patrols were halted the 2d Battalion 
estimated that the enemy forces facing it consisted of 400 men and 20 machine 
guns. The battalion eventually captured 40 machine guns. 

The next day, 11 January, patrols again met fire from the Gifu. The 3d Bat- 
talion of the i82d Infantry completed its southward move to close the gap be- 
tween the right flank of the 2d Battalion, 35th, and the 27th and 161st Regiments 
on the Galloping Horse. By the end of 11 January the 3d Battalion of the i82d 

88 25th Div Opns, pp. 80, 102; CO, 35th Inf, states that tanks were first requested on 12 January. Sec 

ibid., p. 87. 



294 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Inf antry, holding more than 1,500 yards of front, was blocking the valleys north- 
west of the Gifu, the portion of the Matanikau just east of Hill 50, and the south- 
west Matanikau fork. 24 This move, coupled with the capture of the Sea Horse, 
ringed the Gifu on all sides, but its pillbox line still remained to be broken. The 
situation of Colonel Oka's troops in the Gifu had become serious in December, 
yet the majority of the trapped Japanese, who were without food or reinforce- 
ments, were to fight to the death. 

The 2d Battalion of the 35th Infantry again tried to advance on 12 January 
to straighten the line. In the morning 60- and 81-mm. mortars fired a three- 
quarter-hour preparation into the Gifu. When they ceased fire F and G Com- 
panies attacked, but again heavy enemy fire blocked the advance. By 1300 G 
Company had gained about 100 yards, but F Company, which was hit by intense 
machine-gun fire, had gained only 50 yards by 1815. 25 

American soldiers had discovered the exact locations of very few of the Gifu 
pillboxes. Poor visibility in the jungle, the high quality of the Japanese camou- 
flage, and the heavy fire made scouting difficult. The I32d Infantry had shown 
the locations of two machine guns to the 35th Infantry ; a patrol from F Company 
had located two pillboxes on 10 January but machine-gun fire drove the patrol 
back before it could destroy the positions. On the same day a patrol from E Com- 
pany knocked out one machine gun before enemy grenades drove it back. The 
next afternoon when F Company ran into fire from a pillbox just twenty-five 
yards in front of the American lines, soldiers from Headquarters and F Com- 
panies killed some of the occupants with grenades. On 13 January, a quiet day, £ 
patrol from F Company met fire from three emplacements, whereupon all bat- 
talion mortars fired into the area and knocked out one pillbox. 

By 14 January, only 75 percent of the 2d Battalion was fit for duty. 28 Malaria 
and battle casualties had accounted for the remaining 25 percent. To reinforce 
the depleted battalion, the 35th Infantry's Antitank Company was attached as 
infantry to the battalion, and on 14 January moved into line between F and G 
Companies just northeast of Hill 27. 

On the same day patrols from the 3d Battalion of the i82d Infantry attempted 
to find the Japanese left flank. At 1100 the battalion intelligence officer led two 
squads from I Company and three soldiers from M Company to reconnoiter the 
area south of Hill 42. Reaching a small knoll, they saw what appeared to be para- 

2 * 3d Bn, 1 82d Inf, Opn Rpt, 9 Dec 42-7 Apr 43, p. 3; 1 82d Inf S-2 Journals, 9-1 1 Jan 43. 
2B 35th Inf Journal, 1 1 Jan 43. 
26 25th Div Opns, p. 81. 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE SOUTH FLANK 



295 



chutes and ammunition lying on the ground. As the patrol circled back toward 
the American lines some entrenched Japanese soldiers opened fire and killed the 
intelligence officer and one sergeant. The patrol opened fire, but to avoid being 
trapped it withdrew. Later in the day a second patrol returned to the spot and 
engaged the enemy, but it could not find the bodies of the dead men. 27 

On 15 January the Gifu was still virtually intact. On the morning of that day 
the 2d Battalion of the 35th Infantry attempted to break through the Gifu to 
advance west to make contact with the 3d Battalion on the Sea Horse. The plan 
called for a 15-minute preparation by all battalion mortars, after which the Anti- 
tank, G, and F Companies were to assault the Gifu and converge after gaining 
500 yards on their respective fronts. E Company, in reserve on Hill 27, was to help 
envelop the strongest points of enemy resistance developed by the attack. 

The mortars fired from 0645 to 0700, whereupon the assault companies tried 
to advance. A few moved forward, but the majority of the 2d Battalion was halted 
almost immediately. G Company gained 100 yards, but by 0940 it had been halted 
by machine guns. The soldiers replied with grenades and a flame thrower oper- 
ator from Division Headquarters Company tried unsuccessfully to burn out the 
enemy. 28 G Company was unable to advance after 0940 and returned in the after- 
noon with the rest of the battalion to its original lines. 

Attacking northward from Hill 27, F Company could make no progress. The 
Antitank Company advanced west a few yards but halted when fire from the 
eastern pillboxes killed five and wounded ten soldiers. When the Antitank and 
F Companies lost contact in the morning, twelve soldiers from H Company 
moved in to fill the gap but were thrown back after losing two killed and one 
wounded. 29 The Pioneer Platoon from Battalion Headquarters Company then 
filled the gap. F Company was still attempting to advance north at 15 10 when E 
Company moved off Hill 27 to try to envelop the enemy in front of F. This effort 
failed when a misunderstanding of orders caused the entire battalion to with- 
draw to its original line. About 1630 the battalion executive officer ordered one 
badly shaken platoon from G Company to withdraw, but as the order was passed 

27 3d Bn, i8id Inf, Opn Rpt, p. 4; 18 2d Inf, S-2 Journal, 14 Jan 43. The S-2 Journal concludes that 
the Japanese left (northwest) flank extended to the Matanikau. 

28 35th Inf Journal, 15 Jan 43. On 15 January, the 2d Marine Division also used flame throwers on the 
beach, but with greater success. The 35th Infantry ceased to use them because it was believed they needlessly 
exposed the operators. Interv with Col. Larsen. 

29 35th Inf Journal, 15 Jan 43; 25th Div Opns, p. 81, states that the gap developed between the Antitank 
and G Companies. At the time neither company was moving, according to 35th Infantry Journal, and there is 
no record of an enemy counterattack on 15 January. 



296 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



verbally along the line> the soldiers misinterpreted it as an order to the entire bat- 
talion to retire, and all fell back. 30 
Bombardment and Envelopment 

Colonel McClure, the regimental commander, relieved the 2d Battalion 
commander on 16 January and placed the battalion under command of Lt. Col. 
Stanley R. Larsen. 31 After assuming command Colonel Larsen reconnoitered his 
front and correctly concluded that mutually supporting pillboxes ringed the east- 
ernmost three-fifths of the Gifu line. Individual combat groups of riflemen and 
machine gunners held the western areas. The enemy positions could not be by- 
passed, he decided; the Japanese in the Gifu apparently had no intention of es- 
caping but preferred to hold out until death. 32 

The position of the defenders of the Gifu had been rapidly deteriorating. 
They ate their last rations sometime between 10 and 17 January. Colonel Oka, 
commanding the 124th Infantry, is reported to have deserted his troops about 
14 January. He and his staff left the command post on the Matanikau and 
made their way to safety, and later sent orders to the Gifu defenders to evacuate 
and infiltrate through the American lines to the coast. 33 But Major Inagaki's 
starving troops in the Gifu elected to stay at their posts and fight to the end rather 
than desert their sick and wounded comrades. 34 

Colonel McClure then decided to attempt the double envelopment which he 
and General Collins had originally decided against. To tighten the noose around 
the Gifu, he decided to extend the 2d Battalion's lines from Hill 27 to Hill 42, 
thus closely encircling the strong point. E Company was to march northward 
around the American lines from Hill 27 to Hill 42, and by 17 January be ready 
to attack the Gifu from the rear (northwest) while troops on Hill 27 pushed 
north. 35 As a deep, tangled ravine northwest of Hill 27 would make movement 
too difficult to employ a whole company in that area, E Company had com- 
pletely to circle the American lines at the Gifu before attacking. Colonel McClure 

30 Interv with Col Larsen. 

81 Intervs with Gen Collins and Col Larsen. 

83 25th Div Opns, p. 83; interv with Col Larsen. When interviewed Colonel Larsen volunteered the in- 
formation that he had employed Colonel Peters' original plan in reducing the Gifu, i.e., heavy artillery 
bombardment and tank attack. 

33 Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab A; XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, p. 6. Ito, when interrogated by Sebree at.Rabaul 
in 1946, claimed that Oka did not desert his post but was killed on Mount Austen. Interv with Gen Sebree. 
Ito may have been attempting to uphold the honor of the Imperial Army by trying to conceal Oka's defection. 
It will be noted that Oka's operations in October were sometimes hesitant and tardy. 

34 XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, 18th Div Hist, p. 5; Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab A. 
aB 25th Div Opns, p. 83. 




SURRENDER BROADCASTS TO THE GIFU were made by Cap*. John M. Burden from 
Hill 44. He is shown here (at microphone) during the late afternoon of 15 January with Lt. 
CoL Stuart F. Crawford t 25th Division G-2. No immediate surrender resulted. 



2 9 8 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



requested that every available artillery piece be used against Gifu. 

Psychological warfare was also employed by XIV Corps headquarters in an 
attempt to persuade the Japanese to surrender. Capt. John M. Burden of the 
Corps intelligence section, accompanied by intelligence officers of the 25th Di- 
vision, set up a loud speaker on Hill 44 on the northern part of the Sea Horse on 
the afternoon of 15 January. Burden had intended to broadcast in Japanese at 
1600, but a fire fight broke out between a part of the 35th Infantry and some of 
Oka's troops to the east. The broadcast was delayed until 1715, when Burden told 
the Japanese to send an officer to Hill 44 to arrange for the surrender. But it was 
too close to nightfall to expect results, and at 1815 the Japanese were told not to 
try to surrender until the next day. At 0600 the next morning Burden repeated 
the first broadcast of the previous day. When two hours passed without a response 
from any Japanese officer, Burden broadcast again to urge the Japanese soldiers 
to ignore their leaders and save their lives before being annihilated. Five emaci- 
ated prisoners were obtained in this area. They asserted, perhaps untruthfully, 
that neither they nor their fellow soldiers had any stomach for more fighting, 
but continued to resist because they feared that the Americans killed their pris- 
oners. On the basis of this testimony, Captain Burden decided to make one more 
broadcast. 36 

The artillery had meanwhile been preparing for a heavy bombardment. A 
heavy artillery concentration to smother the Gifu was an essential prelude to a 
successful attack, for light mortar shells left the pillboxes undamaged, and there 
were not enough 81 -mm. mortars to cover the entire area. During the first days 
of the operation the 64th Field Artillery Battalion, directly supporting the 35th 
Infantry, had fired little at the Gifu but had fired a few missions in support of the 
27th Infantry, and a few counterbattery and harassing missions into Kokum- 
bona. 37 

Prior to 10 January soldiers of the 64th had emplaced their 105-mm. how- 
itzers in the vicinity of Hill 34, about 2,000 yards northeast of the Gifu. The 
proximity of this position to Wright Road somewhat simplified the movement 
of supplies. Two of the batteries occupied sharp, exposed hill crests, advantageous 
positions made tenable by the enemy's deficiencies in artillery and air power. 
Artillery problems on Guadalcanal were always complicated by the lack of ac- 
curate maps, but since American soldiers had ringed the Gifu it was possible to 

88 Capt Burden's Rpt to ACofS G-2, XIV Corps, 19 Jan 43, sub: Rpt Broadcast Propaganda, in Amer 
Div G-2 Journal, 16-25 Jan 43. 

87 64th FA Bn Hist, p. 2; 25th Div Opns, p. 90. (These accounts are identical;) 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE SOUTH FLANK 



2 99 



place observed fire in the pocket. Forward observers, who frequently encountered 
difficulty in locating their own positions in the jungles, often crawled so close 
to the enemy lines that their own fire fell within 100 yards of them. 38 

The artillery preparation requested by Colonel McClure was assigned by 
25th Division artillery headquarters to the 105-mm. howitzers of the 89th Field 
Artillery Battalion, one 105-mm. howitzer of the 8th, and the 155-mm. howitzers 
of the 90th and 221st Field Artillery Battalions in addition to the 105-mm. how- 
itzers of the 64th Field Artillery Battalion. Because the 64th was in a better posi- 
tion to control fire on the Gifu than division artillery headquarters, the 64th's 
fire direction center was to direct the fire. Direct wires from the 64th's fire direc- 
tion center were to carry data to the fire direction centers of the 8th, 89th, and 90th 
Battalions. Data from the 64th would be transmitted to the 221st via the 25th 
Division Artillery fire direction center, where the 221st liaison officer was sta- 
tioned. 

On the morning of 17 January Captain Burden again attempted to persuade 
the Japanese to surrender. Broadcasting from G Company's line at the Gifu, he 
warned them of the impending bombardment and advised that they escape be- 
fore the shelling began. The Japanese were assured that they would be permitted 
to enter the American lines even after the bombardment started. Burden then 
moved to Hill 27 to repeat the broadcast. But heavy rains fell during most of the 
period of the broadcast, and the volume of the loud-speaker was reduced. No one 
surrendered. One Japanese company is reported to have discussed the possibility 
of surrender but decided against it because most of the men were too ill to walk. 

The artillery had planned to adjust its fire in the morning, but the broad- 
casts delayed the adjustment of the twenty-five 105-mm. and the twenty-four 
155-mm. howitzers until noon. At 1130 infantrymen of the 2d Battalion, 35th, 
were pulled back 300 yards to the rear. The forward observers remained out in 
front. The 35th's main line on Hill 31 lay less than 250 yards north of the Gifu 
line. The 64th Field Artillery Battalion's 105-mm. howitzers lay only 2,000 yards 
from the Gifu. Two thousand, eight hundred yards was the minimum range for 
high-angle fire listed in the firing tables in use at that time. The 155-mm. how- 
itzers could not fire at quadrant elevations greater than 800 mils (45 degrees). To 
hit the ravines inside the Gifu, all shells would have- to be fired almost directly 
over Hill 31, with no margin of safety for clearing the hill. The known vertical 
probable error in the angle of fall of the howitzer shells made it obvious that some 



64th FA Bn Hist, p. 2, 



300 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



would hit Hill 31. 39 It was therefore necessary to pull the infantrymen back to 
the south from Hill 31. 

The artillery battalions began adjusting their fire on the Gifu at 1200 after 
the broadcast had ceased, but were interrupted frequently by calls of "cease fire," 
especially from infantrymen on Hill 42 who believed that the shells were falling 
short. The artillery battalions then adjusted each howitzer individually on the 
target, a slow task which took over two hours to complete. 

For ninety minutes, starting at 1430, the forty-nine howitzers fired for effect. 
They placed over 1,700 rounds in an area less than 1,000 yards square. The 2d Bat- 
talion's mortars fired into the most defiladed areas. The noise, concussion, and 
reverberation were tremendous, and the effect of the bombardment was doubt- 
less great, for the Japanese prisoners captured during the next few days were 
nearly all shell-shocked. 40 But poor timing largely vitiated the effects of both the 
broadcasts and the shelling. 

After the bombardment the infantrymen moved forward and by 1630 had 
reoccupied their lines. They did not then assault because the approaching dusk 
would have made an attack over such terrain very risky. 41 The shock effect of the 
artillery was thus partially lost. 42 Colonel McClure did not repeat the bombard- 
ment the next morning because he did not wish to withdraw the infantry again. 43 

The double envelopment began the next day, 18 January. I Company of the 
i82d Infantry advanced 450 yards south from Hill 42 to make contact about 1700 
with a platoon detached from G Company. The platoon had advanced north- 
west from Hill 27 through the ravine. 44 While these two units were advancing, 
E Company, which had followed I Company of the i82d off Hill 42, swung to 
the left (east) to strike the Gifu from the west. The company knocked out three 
or four enemy machine guns and killed seven Japanese before wired-in machine 
guns halted it. 45 Meanwhile, to the right of E Company, the platoon from G 

**lbid., pp. 4—5, asserts that the Cannon Company might have been profitably employed on Hill 42, and 
that the artillery battalion commander "missed a bet" by not placing some 105-mm, howitzers on Hill 42 for 
direct fire. 

40 25th Div Opus, p. 84. 

41 Ibid., p. 94. 

42 Colonel McClure disapproved of the broadcasts. 25th Div Opns, p. 87. General Collins pointed out 
(p. 103) the necessity for capturing prisoners. XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, j<?fA Div Hist, p. 3, states that the 
broadcasts were effective, for of the 248 prisoners taken later, 118 came from the 124th and 2.2.8th Infantry 
Regiments, the units toward which the broadcasts were directed. 

43 Interv with Lt Col Thomas J. Badger (former S-3, 64th FA Bn), 6 Dec 46. 

44 3d Bn, i82d Inf, Opn Rpt, p. 4; 25th Div Opns, p. 84. 

46 35th Inf S-2 Rpt, 18 Jan 43. This was the first enemy barbed wire encountered in that area. XIV Corps 
G— 2 Summary, 20 Jan 43. 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE SOUTH FLANK 




MAP NO. 13 



Company had located two pillboxes on its front, one of which was knocked out 
after the platoon leader had given firing data to 8i-mm. mortars. 

The next day, 19 January, E Company resumed its attack, but a pillbox and 
machine-gun defense held it down. (Map 13) The Gifu, however, was beginning 
to crack. A 37-mm. antitank gun and an 81-mm. mortar hit one of the two pill- 
boxes discovered in front of Hill 27 by an F Company patrol G Company re- 
ported that it had definitely located twelve pillboxes on its front. E Company, 
which had begun its attack at 0800, reported at 1615 that it had killed six of the 
enemy, knocked out four machine guns, and located twelve machine-gun posi- 




35TH INFANTRY TROOPS LEAVE THE LINE after 21 days of fighting to capture the 
Gifu. Tense nerves and weariness are apparent in the first two men of the returning column. 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE SOUTH FLANK 



3°3 



tions and pillboxes on a small ridge. One hour later the company reported that 
it had destroyed three more positions, but that nine wired-in pillboxes, from ten 
to twelve feet apart, held it back. Grenades failed to damage them, and E Com- 
pany dug in for the night. 46 

Heavy rain, mud, and particularly poor visibility limited operations on 20 
January and prevented the 2d Battalion from exploiting its successes immediately. 
One patrol penetrated 150 yards north from Hill 27, and another found three 
pillboxes northwest of Hill 27. Two were empty. The patrol leader and one auto- 
matic rifleman approached within ten feet of the occupied pillbox before they 
were observed. The patrol leader shot one Japanese, and the automatic rifleman 
shot two more who were trying to escape, but machine guns forced the two 
Americans to withdraw. That night several small groups of enemy soldiers 
failed in their efforts to escape from the pocket. Eleven Japanese were killed. 47 
The Cracking of the Line 

Tanks were made available to the 2d Battalion on 21 January, and the task 
of breaking the enemy lines was greatly simplified. Three Marine Corps light 
tanks, manned by soldiers from the 25th Division's Cavalry Reconnaissance 
Troop, started up the jeep trail toward Mount Austen's 1,514-foot crest. Two 
broke down, but the third reached the top. As the tank drew r*ear the Gifu in- 
fantrymen fired mortars and machine guns to drown its sound, then cut down 
trees to permit the tank to approach the Japanese front lines. 

Supported by sixteen infantrymen, the tank drove into the northeast part of 



the Gifu line, on G Company's left flank, at 1040 on 22 January. | {Map 14)\ It 
pulled close to three pillboxes and destroyed them with 37-mm. high explosive 
shells, and shot the Japanese soldiers with canister and machine guns. Turning 
left (south), the tank broke out through the east end of the Gifu. At 1500 it made 
one more attack against the north side of the Gifu and destroyed five more pill- 
boxes. The infantrymen then moved forward before dark to occupy the gap. 
That same day E Company, on the west, was again held in place by the pillboxes 
on its front. One platoon attempted to outflank them in the afternoon, but dark- 
ness fell before it could complete its move. But the tank, in a few hours, had torn 
a 200-yard hole in the line which had withstood infantry assaults for a month. 

The Gifu area remained quiet until 0230 on the night of 22-23 January, 
when about 100 Japanese soldiers led by Major Inagaki rushed the sector held by 
F Company and the Antitank Company. Inagaki's desperate men used grenades, 

4 * 35th Inf Periodic Rpt, 20 Jan 43; 35th Inf Journal, 19 Jan 43. 
47 25th Div Opns, p. 85. 




small arms, and automatic weapons. The American companies immediately 
opened fire and easily broke up the attack. When day broke the Americans found 
85 dead bodies in front of the two companies, including those of Inagaki, one 
other major, 8 captains, and 15 lieutenants. 48 Inagaki had directed his attack 
against pillboxes on the strongest part of the 2d Battalion's line. Had he attacked 
southwest against the G Company platoon northwest of Hill 27, his chances of 
success might have been greater, since each 15 yards of line was held by only two 



48 Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab A; 25th Div Opns, p. 86. 
19 Interv with Col Larsen. 



FIRST JANUARY OFFENSIVE: THE SOUTH FLANK 



3°5 



As the XIV Corps had already begun the second phase of the January offen- 
sives, Colonel McClure ordered the 2d Battalion to clear the remnants out of 
the Gifu on 23 January. The tank attacks, the success of the enveloping com- 
panies, the effect of the artillery, Inagaki's desperate attempt, and the demoral- 
ized state of the few prisoners captured had convinced Colonel Larsen that the 
Gifu could no longer offer serious resistance. He put his battalion in skirmish line 
and advanced. There was almost no fighting; the enemy survivors were trying to 
hide, not to fight. The only American injured was one private who was shot 
through the shoulder by a Japanese officer. By nightfall Colonel Larsen' s bat- 
talion had cleared the Gifu. 50 Mount Austen was free of the enemy. 

The reduction of the Gifu had cost the 2d Battalion 64 men killed and 42 
wounded. 51 The battalion reported that it had killed 518 Japanese and had cap- 
tured 40 machine guns, 12 mortars, 200 rifles, and 38 sabers. The Gifu garrison 
had been almost completely wiped out. Colonel McClure reported that the 35th 
Infantry in its operations on Mount Austen and the Sea Horse had killed almost 
1,100 of the enemy, and had captured 29 prisoners, 88 light and heavy machine 
guns, 678 rifles, 79 pistols, plus a quantity of ammunition. 52 

The destruction of the determined defenders of the Gifu strong point had 
engaged five battalions of infantry, and lasted over one month. Finally the last 
effective enemy force east of the Matanikau River had been wiped out, and the 
35th Infantry became the reserve of the 25th Division, which was then advancing 
rapidly to the west. 

The first January offensive by the XIV Corps had gained about 3,000 yards 



of ground. (Map XVIII) The western line, running from the coast west of Point 
Cruz inland to the southwest Matanikau fork, had been firmly established. The 
south flank, extending east to Mount Austen, was now secure. In the opinion of 
the Corps commander, the 25th Division had performed brilliantly. 53 

M ibid 

61 25th Div Opns, p. 88. 

* 2 Rpt, CO, 35th Inf to CG, 25th Div. 25th Division Operations lists 431 Japanese killed. Colonel Mc- 
Clure's report includes those killed by artillery fire. 

61 Rad, CG Cactus to COMSOPAC, 0507 of 14 Jan 43, in USAFISPA G-3 Worksheet File 1-15 Jan 43. 
General Patch, in XIV Corps GO No, 52, 7 Mar 43, cited the 25th Division for "outstanding performance 
of duty" from 10 January to 9 February 1943. He recommended that the Division be cited in War De- 
partment General Orders, and COMGENSOPAC concurred, but the recommendation was not approved. 
See Itr, CG XIV Corps to TAG, 7 Mar 43, sub: Recommendation of Citation of 25th Inf. Div. WPD 210.54 
(3-1-42) in HRS DRB AGO. 



CHAPTER XIII 

Fighting on Guadalcanal 



By January 1943 all Army and Marine Corps units which were to take part 
in the campaign had landed and been committed to action. From hard experience 
the Americans had learned a great deal about jungle fighting, acquiring a knowl- 
edge which was to be advantageous to the forces which were to take part in the 
final offensive, as well as in later campaigns in the Pacific. The lessons of the 
Guadalcanal campaign, ably compiled by the men who fought there, reflect in 
concrete terms the nature of the fighting described above, as well as that which 
was still to come. 1 



The Americans 

Tactics 

Thus far the fighting on Guadalcanal was clearly showing that the offensive 
and defensive principles embodied in the American tactical manuals were basic- 
ally sound and sufficiently flexible to be adapted to the terrain in the Solomons. 
The Americal Division, in its operations on the beach, advocated advancing on a 
broad front with units in column and echeloned to protect the flanks. Because the 
rough terrain and thick jungles prevented commanders from exercising close 
control over widely dispersed units, the columns deployed as late and as close to 
the enemy as possible. 

The 25th Division, which operated over open hills and jungle country, found 
that squad columns and skirmish lines could operate effectively over open ground. 
For approach marches in deep jungles, where an entire battalion often moved 
over a single trail, a column of files, deploying as late as possible, was best. 

1 Unless otherwise indicated data in this chapter are generally derived from XIV Corps, Informal Rpt (to 
COMGENSOPAC) on Combat Opns, 3 Jun 43. For a clear statement of the opinions of individuals, see Close- 
Up of Guadalcanal, October-November 1942 (1943) which is a verbatim report of participants' statements 
by Lt. Col. R. P. Reeder, Jr. This study is also available under the title Fighting on Guadalcanal (OPD, 
WDGS, 1943). 



FIGHTING ON GUADALCANAL 



3°7 



All divisions and regiments agreed that the wisdom of enveloping one or 
more of the enemy 's flanks, rather than attacking frontally, had been repeatedly 
demonstrated. When the Japanese resisted vigorously from a pocket or strong 
point, the best technique was to bypass the pocket, continue the advance, and re- 
duce the pocket at leisure. 

Except in rare instances, advancing units usually halted early enough in the 
afternoon to establish all-round defenses and permit defensive artillery and mor- 
tar concentrations to be registered before the fall of darkness. Halting in the after- 
noon gave the troops time to dig foxholes and emplacements, string barbed wire, 
emplace and site heavy weapons, and camouflage the position as much as pos- 
sible. By halting in daylight, troops in the jungle could also determine the loca- 
tion of the units on their flanks. If this was not done, inexperienced troops were 
apt to fire on each other during the night. All movement within a defensive area 
ceased after nightfall. 

Infantry fighting was close work, as most targets lay less than fifty yards 
from the infantrymen. The nature of the terrain broke most engagements into 
"small unit scraps" in which "success is dependent upon the individual soldiers, 
NCO's, and platoon leaders' ability to act promptly and intelligently when con- 
fronted with a situation." 2 

The soldiers and marines had seen repeatedly demonstrated the obvious truth 
that success in war demands skillful and vigorous leadership from all ranks 
charged with the responsibility of providing leadership. Those whose leadership 
faltered under the stress of combat had to be relieved of their commands. 
Weapons 

American weapons had generally proved to be both potent and practical. 
The U. S. Rifle, Mi (Garand) had shown itself to be superior to the M1903 
(Springfield), with which many marines had been armed. Other small arms 
were less satisfactory. The .45-caliber automatic pistol found little use. The 
Marines' Reising Gun, a .45-caliber submachine gun, proved to be almost worth- 
less. 3 The .45-caliber Thompson submachine gun, while efficient, sounded too 
much like Japanese .25-caliber weapons, and could not be safely employed at the 
front. Bayonets and knives were valuable in close combat at night, as were hand 
grenades, but rifle and antitank grenades lacked sufficiently sensitive fuzes. 

The larger infantry weapons were extremely efficient, although most troops 
complained of their weight. The light air-cooled .30-caliber machine gun sup- 

* Gavan, Personal Account, p. 4. 

• ist Mar Div Rpt, II, 16. 




EMPLOYMENT OF TANKS in Guadalcanal was hampered by the nature of the terrain. 
Light tan\s were difficult to maneuver in the dense 'jungle and vulnerable to enemy mines 
and antitan\ guns. 



FIGHTING ON GUADALCANAL 



3°9 



planted lire heavy water-cooled .30-caliber machine gun in supporting infantry 
attacks, but the most valuable infantry weapon for an attack was the light, mobile 
.30-caliber Browning automatic rifle. Caliber .50 machine guns and 37-mm. anti- 
tank guns, while not generally used offensively, were excellent in defense posi- 
tions, as were the heavy .30-caliber machine guns. The 60-mm. mortar, carried by 
hand, followed closely behind assaulting infantrymen, and its fire was effective 
in open terrain. The 81-mm. mortar could not follow closely behind an attack, 
but it was usually brought forward as soon as possible and was invaluable for 
close support of the infantry. 

American troops, in accordance with standard tactical doctrines, were rely- 
ing heavily upon artillery for both offense and defense despite inaccurate maps, 
limited observation, and the difficulties of hauling ammunition. Of the three 
calibers of howitzers generally used on Guadalcanal, the 75-mm. pack howitzer, 
though mobile, was too light; the 105-mm. howitzer was very good, and the 155- 
mm. howitzer was excellent. Neither the XIV Corps nor the divisions possessed 
any organic aviation, and adjustment of the artillery was usually effected through 
forward observers. Since infantrymen in their first battle were often apprehensive 
when their own artillery put fire over their heads to hit targets directly in front 
of them, forward observers usually laid the first registration shots deep in enemy 
territory, and then brought the fire back toward the American front lines. 

Close support of ground troops by aircraft, used consistently by the 1st Marine 
Division, was being continued by the XIV Corps. Close air support was not al- 
ways easy to employ, for complete radio facilities for air-to-ground communi- 
cations were not always available, and the designation of the enemy targets and 
American front lines by panels and smoke was not always accurate in rough 
terrain. The best solution for these difficulties lay in careful planning, close liai- 
son, and direct observation of the targets and front lines by the pilots before tak- 
ing off. 

Tank destroyers, in support of the infantry, were effective in defensive mis- 
sions, and where there was space for maneuver they were useful offensively. 
Tanks were very good in the offensive but the jungle, by hampering their fields 
of vision and freedom to maneuver, limited their effectiveness by making them 
easy prey to mines and antitank guns. They were safe only when closely sup- 
ported by infantrymen. Light tanks, the only kind employed on Guadalcanal, 
were vulnerable to enemy gunfire ; medium tanks would have been better. 4 



* Ltr, CG 1st Mar Div to Comdt Mar Corps, I Jul 43, sub: Final Rpt Guadalcanal Opn. 



3io 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Intelligence 

In addition to the information it received from coastwatchers and higher 
headquarters, the XIV Corps, like the ist Marine Division, was deriving knowl- 
edge of enemy strength, dispositions, and capabilities from all the units under its 
control. Motor torpedo boats, patrolling Sealark Channel and the coasts of the 
adjacent islands, reported regularly. Direct aerial observation and aerial photo- 
graphs yielded valuable data. Corps headquarters, though hampered by lack of 
enough photographic interpreters, based its plan of attack in January largely upon 
conclusions derived from the study of photographs. The Corps depended on 
ground patrols, usually of reinforced platoon strength, for close-in combat intelli- 
gence — finding routes of approach, enemy front lines, soft spots, and strong 
points. The quality of patrolling had been improving since D Day. Reconnais- 
sance patrols had learned to avoid battle but to gather information, and the men 
had become more confident of their ability to move and fight in the jungle. But 
until the end of the campaign reports from ground patrols were often erroneous. 
Misled by the difficulty of walking through dark, rough jungle, patrols frequently 
overestimated the distances they had traveled. 

Captured documents were still a fruitful source of data on enemy units, for 
the Japanese carelessly carried diaries and orders into the front lines. Prisoners of 
war, if well treated, usually gave voluminous testimony on all subjects. Appar- 
ently the Japanese belief that it is dishonorable to surrender had led the Imperial 
Army to neglect to instruct soldiers on what to do if captured, for the enemy 
soldiers, once taken prisoner, talked freely. But very few Japanese soldiers ever 
gave themselves up voluntarily. The American troops, who were fearful of the 
widely publicized treacherousness of the enemy, were reluctant to take prisoners, 
and the Japanese soldiery usually fought until they were killed rather than 
capitulate. 

The XIV Corps, besides the voice broadcasts at the Gifu, also employed 
leaflets to induce surrenders. On 10 January Allied planes dropped 18,000 copies 
of a War Department propaganda leaflet which compared the hardships of the 
front-line soldier with the ease of those behind the lines. Two days later 25,000 
copies of Emperor Hirohito's poem on peace were dropped. The War Depart- 
ment had also furnished a surrender leaflet, but because it urged the Japanese to 
surrender at any time, it was altered. In the revised version the Japanese were in- 
structed to surrender by entering the American lines through open areas in day- 
light, unarmed, their hands above their heads. These leaflets were dropped on 16 
January. Their effectiveness is difficult to measure. Out of a group of eighty-four 



FIGHTING ON GUADALCANAL 



prisoners taken by the XIV Corps between i January and 15 February 1943, thirty- 
three were sick or wounded men who could not walk. Fifty-one gave up volun- 
tarily, and only twelve of these had surrender leaflets in their possession. 5 

The Measure of the Enemy 

American troops, none of whom had received the specialized jungle training 
that was later given to all units in the Pacific, were learning that the Japanese, 
though a brave, resolute, and often skillful soldier, could be soundly beaten. On 
the offensive his endurance, high morale, and soldierly ability made him danger- 
ous. Yet there were grave weaknesses inherent in Japanese offensive tactics. His 
artillery was seldom present in sufficient strength, by American standards, to sup- 
port an offensive, and his artillery techniques were not sufficiently developed to 
mass fire and change targets quickly. Although fairly efficient in night operations, 
the Japanese often ignored the dangers of assembling in or marching through 
areas on which American artillery fire had already been registered. The maneuver 
employed in the October counteroffensive — an attack against an axis of com- 
munication, coupled with an envelopment through "impassable" terrain culmin- 
ating in a mass rush on a narrow front — employed dense concentrations of in- 
fantrymen, which were vulnerable targets for both artillery and infantry fires. 
The Japanese, in an offensive, was wont to follow a fixed plan rigidly; he appar- 
ently lacked either the flexibility of mind or enough military technique to alter 
his plans when they went askew. The Japanese, on the other hand, believed that 
American troops lacked initiative, that they would execute a given order and then 
stop rather than exploit their opportunities to move forward. 6 

Japanese military judgment appeared to err on the side of optimism, for in 
offensive action on Guadalcanal the enemy almost invariably committed forces 
smaller than those of the Americans. His intelligence techniques were apparently 
unsound; he consistently underestimated the size of the forces opposing him. 7 
However, the Japanese had learned caution in one respect. Although continuing 
to stress infiltration and harassment, he had learned that American flanks and 



rear areas were not as vulnerable as he had once believed. 8 (Appendix D) 



6 Amcr Div Int Rpt, Tab F. 

fl ATIS, SWPA, Enemy Pub No. 56, 21 Nov 43, Characteristics of American Combat Methods on Guadal- 
canal, trans of Japanese booklet of 4 Nov 43, p. 3. 

7 See ltr, CG 1st Mar Div to Comdt Mar Corps, 1 Jul 43, sub: Final Rpt Guadalcanal Opn. 

8 Cf ATIS, SWPA, Enemy Pub No. 56 with ATIS, SWPA, Enemy Pub No. 64, 1 Dec 43, U. S. Army 
Combat Methods, Trans of an O^i Shudan {17th Army) brochure issued in Sep 42. 



TRANSPORTATION PROBLEMS were a major factor in the progress of the Guadalcanal 
battle. Where roads could he constructed, the jeep and 2^/2 -ton tritely served well, as along 
Marine Trail (above) on the east bank, of the Matani\au* Off the trails, troops had to hac\ 
their way through dense jungle with machetes, covering only a mile or two a day. 



FIGHTING ON GUADALCANAL 



In defense the Japanese soldier was more skillful, and hence more formid- 
able, than in offense. His strong points were well located and well organized, his 
weapons well sited, and his camouflage superior. His tenacity, his willingness to 
starve or be shot rather than surrender, may be denounced as fanaticism, but such 
qualities gave vital strength to his defense. His weapons — .25-caliber rifles, mor- 
tars, grenade dischargers, and artillery — were well made and efficient although 
his technical proficiency in the use of weapons was lower than that of the 
Americans. 

The Japanese was also learning much about American troops and methods, 
although he does not always appear to have applied his lessons in the Solomons 
campaigns. In general, he was impressed by American equipment and fire power. 
He admired the mechanized equipment and the abundance of ammunition, al- 
though claiming that many of the artillery shells fired on Guadalcanal failed to 
explode. He particularly admired the skill of American artillerymen in massing 
and shifting fire. While denying that American tactics were better than Japan- 
ese, he noted that the former, though somewhat cautious, were thorough, well 
planned, systematic, and sound. Co-operation between the Army and Navy, he 
believed, was good. He considered that American troops, though unduly pru- 
dent and apt to fire too high, were steady in the attack. 9 In the words of the ijth 
Army's former chief of staff : "As a former soldier I must pay respect to the Amer- 
ican infantrymen, artillerymen, and tank corpsmen who attacked the Japanese 
Army sustaining severe losses in each battle, while suffering the hardships of 

malaria and amoebic dysentery in the Guadalcanal and New Guinea cam- 
» 10 

paigns. 

Logistics 

Transportation 

On the best motor roads of Guadalcanal, trucks could travel at twenty miles 
per hour if the roads were not muddy. Off the roads, they could scarcely move. 
On the jungle trails, the average march speed for troops was one mile per hour. 
Off the trails in the jungle, where troops had to hack their way through the 
undergrowth with machetes and bayonets, a half mile per hour was a rapid 
march speed. Under these conditions, supply and evacuation posed grave prob- 
lems. Supply dumps were located as far forward as possible, and trucks carried 

B Interrog of Hyakutake, Maruyama, Miyazaki, Sumiyoshi, Tamaki, Tajima, and Konuma. 
10 Miyazaki, Personal Account, p. 8. 



3M 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



supplies from the dumps to the termini of the roads. From the road-end forward, 
supplies were carried by hand, by boat, and by cableways. In the front lines, where 
men were forced to remain under cover, supplies were usually distributed by 
being thrown from foxhole to foxhole. 

There were never enough trucks, but those which were available were giv- 
ing excellent service. The powered front axles of American military trucks en- 
abled them to traverse bogs, mud, and sand which would have stopped ordinary 
vehicles. The 2%-ton truck, although not always sufficiently powerful to pull a 
105-mm. howitzer, worked well, as did the jeep. 

One interesting experiment in transportation in jungle warfare was the use 
of mules. The 97th Field Artillery Battalion (75-mm. pack howitzers) Which 
supported the advance up the north coast had mules. The presence of the animals 
complicated rather than simplified the logistical problem. Mules could not trav- 
erse all the types of terrain that a man on foot could negotiate. They could not 
get over boggy ground or cross muddy banks and stream beds. Although able to 
cover from four to five miles per hour over favorable terrain, the mules could 
cover only one mile per hour over Guadalcanal's roads and trails. As a result they 
caused traffic jams and impeded the trucks. Nor could the battalion easily supply 
itself. Each firing battery had 193 men and 117 mules. This entire strength was 
required to transport the four 75-mm. pack howitzers and 200 rounds of ammu- 
nition allotted to each battery. To assist in moving ammunition forward, one 
ammunition section from the Service Battery — including 43 pack mules and 23 
riding mules — was attached to the firing battery, to increase its strength to 212 
men and 182 mules. But each mule required eight pounds of oats and 14 pounds 
of hay per day for feed. Thus, keeping four guns in action required the services 
of 212 men and 182 mules. To feed the mules necessitated hauling 1,500 pounds 
of oats and 2,600 pounds of hay to the front daily by some agency other than the 
firing battery, for the mules could not haul feed as well as howitzers and ammu- 
nition. The experiment was unsuccessful. 

Evacuation of the wounded was effected by the same general means by which 
supplies were brought forward. Cableways, hand-borne litters, jeeps, boats, am- 
bulances, and trucks were all employed. 

Engineering problems, like all others on the island, were difficult to solve. 
Roads through the jungle and over the steep hills were hard to build and main- 
tain. Since the XIV Corps possessed no corps engineers, Americal and 25th Di- 
vision engineer battalions functioned as both corps and divisional engineers. Each 
battalion had been able to transport only two bulldozers to Guadalcanal, and the 



CONSTRUCTION EQUIPMENT was scarce and inadequate. The light bulldozer above is 
shown improving the trail over "Windmill Hilt" (Hill 55) on Wright Road. Runways were 
leveled by small Army Corps of Engineers earth movers which had been brought to Guadah 
canal only when already-crowded transport space would permit 




316 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



bulldozers were too old and too light for efficient service. Not until January was 
there a power shovel for the Army engineers, and at no time was there a sawmill. 

Since flash floods on the rivers usually washed out temporary bridges, the ist 
(Marine) Engineer Battalion in November ingeniously bui|t its own pile driver 
with salvaged steel trusses, a %-inch steel cable, a gasoline-driven winch, and a 
500-pound hammer. This contrivance, which could drive 8-inch piles from eight 
to ten feet into the river bottoms, enabled the marines to build bridges that would 
withstand the floods. 11 
Rations and Clothing 

The rations usually served to troops in combat were the C and K rations. These 
were nutritious but somewhat greasy for use in the tropics. The C ration consisted 
of prepared meals — meat and beans, stew, or meat and vegetable hash in the dinner 
ration, and biscuits, candy, and a concentrated beverage powder for breakfast — 
packed in tin cans. One day's ration weighed over five pounds, and was bulky and 
heavy in a man's pack. The concentrated nonperishable K ration included a small 
can of cheese or meat paste, biscuits, candy, beverage powder, chewing gum, and 
two cigarettes. It was packed in waterproof paper packages, was lighter than the C 
and easier to pack. But most men found the cold K rations tiresome, and agreed 
that the C ration, whether hot or cold, was wearisome. 

Men did not carry complete mess kits into action with them. A canteen cup 
and spoon sufficed each man. Both C and K rations could be eaten out of the con- 
tainers with either hands or spoon. Means of washing mess kits thoroughly were 
not to be found at the front, and to eat from an improperly washed kit led to 
violent diarrhea. 

In the rear areas, when kitchens and messes were established, hot meals were 
served. But they were little better than those at the front, for they were prepared 
from canned and dehydrated meats and vegetables. There were virtually no fresh 
foods — eggs, milk, butter, or meat — then available on Guadalcanal, and shipping 
and refrigerator space was too scarce to ship such commodities for anyone but 
hospital patients. The only fresh food most men tasted during the campaign 
came from a shipment of turkey, fresh potatoes, oranges, and celery brought in 
for their Christmas dinner. 

For combat in the jungle, the light color of the cotton khaki uniform was too 
conspicuous. The uniform most suitable for combat was, for the soldier, the two- 
piece green twill fatigue uniform rather than the one-piece coverall, and for the 

1J ist Mar Div Rpt, V, Logistics Annex Z, 6. 



FIGHTING ON GUADALCANAL 



marine, the two-piece green utility suit. Shoes made of undressed leather, well 
covered with waterproofing grease and soled with rubber or a composition ma- 
terial, rendered the best service. Canvas leggings did not give good service. They 
held the damp and chafed the ankles, and the buckles, straps, and hooks caught 
in the underbrush. The steel helmet was invaluable; besides protecting the head 
it served as an entrenching tool, cooking pot, and wash basin. 
Communications 

Voice radio sets were not functioning at full efficiency on Guadalcanal. 
Moisture and corrosion affected the circuits and metallic contacts, altered fre- 
quencies, and occasionally drowned out sets completely. The heavy jungle and 
deep valleys blocked the waves from some of the lighter sets. Some sets assigned 
to the infantry divisions were too heavy to move conveniently by manpower 
when trucks and roads were not available. The SCR's 194 and 195 (the "Walkie 
Talkie"), powered by dry batteries, possessed a range of from one to two miles. 
They served well enough in open and high ground, but were ineffective in the 
jungle. The battery-powered 6-pound SCR 536 ("Handy Talkie"), with a range 
of 1 1 / 2 miles, could be used only in open terrain and was very fragile. 

The 20-pound battery-powered SCR 511, with a range of five miles, was de- 
pendable if kept dry, and could readily be carried by one man. The most reliable 
set for infantry use was the portable, hand-generated SCR 284. This set, with a 
range of seven miles, weighed no pounds, and required several men to carry it. 
The SCR 284 could be transported in a jeep, but jolting over the rough roads was 
apt to damage it. The bulky, long-range SCR 193 proved to be effective for 
ground-to-air communications, as well as for communication between division 
and corps headquarters. 

In the absence of reliable radio communications the infantry regiments, bat- 
talions, and companies were relying most heavily on wire communications. They 
employed the EE-8 field and the sound-powered telephones for long and short 
distances, respectively. Wire communications, though reliable, required contin- 
uous maintenance. Wires had to be strung overhead for complete efficiency, since 
vehicles and men on foot were apt to break wire laid on the ground. One of the 
most effective circuits for field telephones was a ground return circuit super- 
imposed upon a metallic circuit by the use of repeating coils. Ground return 
circuits gave more reliable service than completely metallic circuits, but were sub- 
ject to interception by the Japanese. 

The lessons of the first months of Guadalcanal had been well learned, were 
applied in the final stages of the campaign, and were to be embodied in future 



3 i8 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



training programs. Training for jungle combat would need to be realistic and 
rigorous; it would need to employ difficult, extended maneuvers over long and 
arduous distances, intensive practice in scouting and patrolling, experience in 
undergoing overhead fire, close infantry-artillery teamwork, and wide envelop- 
ments, as well as thorough training in the use of weapons. 

The morale and mental attitude of the troops had been and would continue 
to be an integral part of their preparation for combat. The exaggerated reputation 
which the Japanese fighting man enjoyed during the early part of 1942 had by 
now been deflated, but a few superstitions remained in men's minds. One of the 
great bugaboos of the Guadalcanal campaign which slowed nearly all advances 
by the infantry was the belief, firmly held by nearly all troops, that Japanese 
"snipers" operated from treetops. But this belief, which the Japanese curiously 
entertained about American "snipers," was seldom supported by facts. The Jap- 
anese rifleman was not especially equipped for sniping, nor did he usually climb 
into trees to shoot. 12 

Realistic training would also be needed to accustom troops to battle and 
jungle noises, for the average American unit, during its first night in the jungle 
on Guadalcanal, would nervously fire at the sounds made by birds, land crabs, 
creaking branches, and falling foliage. Rigid discipline and training in sanitation 
were likewise necessary. It was essential that soldiers be thoroughly indoctrinated 
in the need for disposal of all waste materials, and that malaria discipline, in- 
cluding the use of mosquito nets, complete clothing after dusk, killing of mos- 
quito larvae, and the regular use of atabrine tablets, be strictly enforced. 

12 Statement made by I to to Gen Sebree in 1946. Interv with Gen Sebree, 19-20 Jun 47. Equally false 
was the rumor that there were Japanese women on Guadalcanal. This belief may have been engendered by 
the quantities of contraceptive devices and women's underclothing that were found in Japanese bivouacs. Only 
three men — a field officer, a lieutenant, and a 1st Sergeant — claim to have seen a Japanese woman. The field 
officer and the sergeant found a female corpse on the southwest coast which they thought was that of a Japa- 
nese. Amer Div Int Rpt, p. 17; interv with Gen Sebree. The lieutenant asserted that he saw the dead body of 
the Japanese woman "sniper" that had been cut down from a tree on Mount Austen about 20-22 December 
1942. Statement by the lieutenant, of K Co, i32d Inf, 18 Feb 43, in notes of G-2 Hist Sec, USAFISPA, in files 
of Hist Div, SSUSA. 



CHAPTER XIV 

XIV Corps' Second January Offensive 



When the 25th Division completed the capture of the Galloping Horse on 
13 January, it doubled the length of the Corps' west front. The front now ex- 
tended far enough inland to enable the Corps to advance westward on a broad 
front without much danger of having its left flank enveloped. General Patch 
then prepared for a second co-ordinated attack designed to carry through Kok- 
umbona to the Poha River, about 9,000 yards west of Point Cruz. 

Such an attack had to wait until supplies could catch up with the troops. 
The 25th Division was forced to halt after capturing the Galloping Horse until 
the road net could be extended sufficiently to bring enough supplies forward 
to support the next drive. 1 Engineers immediately began to push the Hill 66 
road to the southwest, but it was 22 January before the Corps could resume its 
advance on a two-division front. The units on the beach, on the right flank of 
the 25th Division, were not impeded in their forward movement by lack of 
supplies. These were brought to them over the coast road network, and they 
were able to move forward almost every day from 13 to 24 January. 

General Patch hoped to trap and destroy the Japanese in Kokumbona. 
There were only two routes by which they could escape from that village. The 
easiest lay along the flat ground on the north coast between Kokumbona and 
Cape Esperance, and was then controlled by the Japanese. The second route 
lay over a 20-mile-long native trail which ran from Kokumbona southwestward 
through the mountains to Beaufort Bay on the south coast. 

Allied patrols had explored most of the trail in December. 2 Beaufort Bay 
was friendly territory. The Japanese had never operated in strength on the 
south coast. Emery de Klerk, a Belgian missionary of the Roman Catholic 
Society of Mary who had maintained a station at Beaufort Bay before the war, 
had declined to be evacuated when the marines had come, but gave his services 
as a coastwatcher, recruiter of native labor, and authority on terrain. 3 

1 Rad, CG Guadalcanal to COMSOPAC, 20 Jan 43. XIV Corps G-3 Journal. 

2 Amer Div G-3 Periodic Rpt, 15 Dec-31 Dec 42, inUSAFISPA G-3 Periodic Rpts. 

3 1 st Mar Div Rpt V, Int Annex N, 9. 



320 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



To prevent the Japanese from escaping via Beaufort Bay, General Patch 
had dispatched there a shore-to-shore expedition even before the opening of 
the first January offensive. The expedition was to land at Beaufort Bay and 
proceed over the trail to block the passes in the mountains near the village of 
Vurai, which lay southwest of Kokumbona. In the narrow mountain defiles, a 
small force might withstand entire battalions of infantry. 4 Troops for the expe- 
dition were provided by the 147th Infantry. Commanded by Capt. Charles E. 
Beach, the force consisted of I Company, one platoon from M Company, one 
platoon from the Antitank Company, and pioneer, medical, and communica- 
tion troops. 5 

On 7 January Captain Beach's command boarded two tank landing craft 
(LCT) at Kukum to sail around Cape Esperance at night, and reached Klerk's 
mission at 1315 on 9 January. The force landed and one I Company platoon, 
plus the antitank and heavy weapons platoons and pioneers, established beach 
defenses. 

Two days later, while the 27th Infantry was fighting on the Galloping 
Horse, the remainder of the expedition set out over the mountain trail and 
reached Vurai on 14 January. There the troops established a base camp, a 
defensive line, and outposts. When patrols failed to find any Japanese the main 
camp was moved farther north to Tapananja on the upper reaches of the 
Nueha River, about six miles south of Sealark Channel. Outposts guarded the 
upper Poha, but no Japanese attempted to make their way from Kokumbona 
along the blocked trail. 

The blocking force subsisted on scanty rations. Natives were to have car- 
ried food over the mountains, but apparently little food actually reached I 
Company, which after trying to subsist on baked green bananas reported that 
they "taste like hell." Captain Beach requested that aircraft drop food to his 
force, but XIV Corps headquarters refused for fear of revealing the block to 
the enemy. 6 

The Japanese never attempted to make their way over the trail; the block 
by Beach's detachment, however, was an economical method of ensuring that 
the enemy did not escape southward from Kokumbona to hide in the moun- 
tains or on the south coast. 

* Interv with Col Long, 26 Mar 46. 

B 147th Inf Hist, 1940-1944, Annex No 1. (n. p.); 147th Inf FO No. 19, 7 Jan 43, in misc docs from 
USAFISPA. Practically all data on the Vurai Block are derived from the 147th Inf Hist. 

8 Rads between Capt Beach and XIV Corps G-3 in XIV Corps G-3 Journal, 20 Jan 43. 



FIRE SUPPORT FOR THE SECOND JANUARY OFFENSIVE was given by both Army 
and Navy units. Above,, a i^-mm* gun is seen firing on targets in the Ko\umbona area while 
below, a destroyer steams along the coast farther west to hit Japanese positions. Cape Esper- 
ance is on the horizon just above the gun blast. 



322 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Plans and Preparations 

XIV Corps' Offensive Plans 

Two days after Captain Beach's force reached Vur ai, General Patc h di- 



rected the XIV Corps to resume its co-ordinated attacks. (Appendix C) Field 
Order No. i, issued on 16 January, ordered the Corps to attack west to gain a 
line extending southwest from a point on the beach about 2,600 yards west of 
Point Cruz inland to a point about 3,000 yards west of the Galloping Horse. 
Since most of the regiments of both the 2d Marine and Americal Divisions 
were too badly worn out for further offensive action, the Corps commander 
formed the Composite Army-Marine (CAM) Division from the 6th Marines, 
the i82d and the 147th Infantry Regiments, and the 2d Marine and Americal 
Division artillery units. The CAM Division was to continue the coastal drive 
on the right of the 25th Division on a 3,000-yard front. It was also to keep con- 
tact on its left with the 25th Division and guard the shore line between the 
Matanikau River and the objective. 7 General Patch ordered the 25th Division 
to attack to the southwest to envelop the Japanese south (right) flank and 
cover the XIV Corps' left (south) flank. "Isolated points of enemy resistance" 
were to be contained, bypassed, and reduced later. After reaching its objective 
the Corps was to be prepared to continue the attack to the northwest. 

Artillery support arrangements were the same as those made on 10 Janu- 
ary. General Mulcahy's 2d Marine Air Wing was to give close air support. De- 
stroyers of the U. S. Navy, assisted by fire control parties on shore, would bom- 
bard enemy coastal positions. During the attack the Americal Division (less 
the i82d Infantry) and the 2d and 8th Marines were to man the Lunga perim- 
eter defense. 8 

The ground over which the XIV Corps was to fight is similar to that cov- 
ered in the first January offensive. On the coast the rocky north-south ridges, 
with deep ravines between, furnished the enemy with strong natural positions 
from which to oppose the CAM Division. The 25th Division's zone covered 
higher ground than the CAM Division's, The outstanding feature of the inland 
zone is the hill mass formed by Hills 87-88-89, the highest ground on the 



7 By 20 January 2d Marine Division units in the front lines consisted of Headquarters, 2d Marine Division 
and the 6th Marines, with i82d Infantry (less 3d Battalion) and 147th Infantry attached. In subsequent field 
orders this unit was called CAM (Composite Army-Marine) Division, and for simplicity's sake will be so 
termed here. 

8 XIV Corps FO No. 1, in 25 th Div Opns, App. VIII, and Amer Div G-3 Journal. 



SECOND JANUARY OFFENSIVE 323 

north coast between the Matanikau River and Cape Esperance. These hills 
dominate Kokumbona just as Mount Austen dominates Lunga Point. 
25th Divisions Preliminary Movements 

To carry out General Patch's orders for the offensive, General Collins, on 
20 January 1943, ordered the 25th Division to attack west from the Galloping 
Horse on 22 January. The 27th Infantry was to deliver a holding attack while 
the 161st Infantry, making the division's main effort, moved southwest to out- 
flank the enemy. The 35th Infantry was to complete mopping up the Gifu, 
then pass to division reserve. 9 

In the 161st Infantry's zone, three small open hills lay southwest of the 



Hill 53. {Map XIX) Hill Z, the most distant, was 2,500 yards from Hill 53, and 
6,900 yards south of Sealark Channel. The 161st Infantry was to seize these 
hills, then move northwest through the jungle to attack Hill 87, the division 
objective, from the rear. After the capture of Hill 87 the regiment was to seize 
the other two eminences (Hills 88 and 89) comprising the hill mass. 

The road up to the Galloping Horse had been extended to Hill 53. Sup- 
plies for the 161st Infantry had been trucked to Hill 53, and native bearers were 
to hand-carry supplies forward from there to support the attack. The 161 st 
Infantry assembled on the southern parts of the Galloping Horse. On 20 Janu- 
ary the 2d Battalion advanced to Hill X, and the next day to Hill Y, but found 
no strong forces there. The battalion killed only one Japanese on 21 January. 

In the northern half of the 25th Division's zone, the 27th Infantry pre- 
pared for its holding attack. A long, slender, open ridge runs from a point 
southwest of Hill 66 near the northwest Matanikau fork to a point east of Hill 
87. This ridge, called the "Snake" from its appearance in an aerial photograph, 
provided a route of approach for the 27th Infantry. To supply the 27th's attack, 
the 57th and 65th Engineer Battalions extended the road from Hill 66 up to 
the Snake's back prior to 22 January, and when the infantry advanced the en- 
gineers were to push the road to Hill 87. 

On 17 January Colonel Jurney's 1st Battalion, the assault unit, had out- 
posted the Snake. C Company, with one light machine gun section attached, 
occupied the Snake's head. On 20 January a patrol from A Company — one 
rifle and one mortar squad — advanced west over the Snake toward Hill 87. 
As the patrol neared Hill 87C enemy machine-gun and mortar fire forced the 
soldiers to take cover. When the patrol radioed for assistance one rifle platoon 



9 25th Div FO No. 2, in 25th Div Opns, App. IX. 




THE AREA OF ADVANCE FROM THE SNAKE was over Hills 87 , 88, and 89, then 
northward over Hill 90 toward Kofambova. At bottom of the photo is seen the west side 
of Hill 57 ( part of the Galloping Horse ). 



SECOND JANUARY OFFENSIVE 



325 



from the 1st Battalion started forward. Before the reinforcing platoon reached 
the scene an artillery forward observer with the beleaguered patrol radioed fir- 
ing data to his battalion. The resulting artillery bombardment forced the enemy 
to cease fire and the 1st Battalion patrol returned safely. 10 

The enemy still held Hill 87; the mortars and machine guns emplaced 
there helped to confirm the American belief that the position would be 
strongly defended. Because Hill 87 dominated Hill 87C, the 1st Battalion did 
not try to hold the latter prior to 22 January. 

A second 1st Battalion patrol marched without incident to Hill 87G, 1,000 
yards northwest of 87C, on 20 January. Because the route led the patrol over 
such rough terrain that it took three hours to travel the distance, Colonel Jur- 
ney determined to attack only over the Snake on 22 January. 

Colonel Mitchell's 2d Battalion of the 27th Infantry, in reserve, took over 
the 1st Battalion's old positions on Hill 57 on 21 January. The 3d Battalion, 
Colonel Bush commanding, moved to the Snake's head on the same day to be 
in position to follow closely behind the assaulting 1st Battalion. 



The 25th Divisions Advance to Ko\umbo?ia 

First Day: The Change in Plan 

Infantrymen of the 25th Division attacked at 0630, 22 January. {Map XX) 
The divisional field order had not specifically ordered a preparatory artillery 
bombardment, but at the requests of the regimental commanders the division 
artillery fired i2 l / 2 tons of 75-mm., 105-mm., and 155-mm. ammunition into the 
161st Infantry's zone southwest of the Galloping Horse, and 55 tons on Hill 
87. Four battalions put fire on Hill 87; the 8th Field Artillery Battalion, for 
example, fired at an extremely rapid rate — fourteen and one-half rounds per 
gun per minute. 11 

While the 1st Battalion of the 161st Infantry covered the division's left 
flank, the 2d Battalion, which had been designated as the assault battalion, 
moved off Hill Y into the deep jungle. The 3d Battalion followed to Hills X 
and Y. The 2d Battalion began marching along an old trail toward Hill 87. 12 

The 27th Infantry launched its holding attack simultaneously with the 
i6ist's attempted envelopment. At 0630 the 1st Battalion started over the nar- 

10 25th Div G-2 Journal, 20 Jan 43; 25th Div Opns, p. 52. 

11 Ibid., pp. 63 and 136. 

12 This battalion turned north too soon. Gen Collins' statement in 25th Div Opns, p. 122. 



326 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



row Snake in a column of companies led by C Company. At 0700, when the 
artillery battalions ceased firing, the 27th Infantry's mortars and 37-mm. guns 
on the Snake opened fire at Hill 87. C Company started to climb Hill 87F but 
Japanese machine-gun fire from the top of Hill 87 forced it to halt. American 
mortars and antitank guns on the Snake silenced the enemy, and by 0745 the 
battalion had resumed the advance. 13 The battalion then deployed — A Com- 
pany on the right, B in the center, and C on the left — and assaulted Hill 87. But 
the enemy had withdrawn; there was no opposition. By 0910, in less than three 
hours, the battalion had advanced almost 3,000 yards to the summit of Hill 87, 
the day's objective. 

Fortunately the XIV Corps possessed officers who were flexible enough to 
change their plans to exploit this unexpectedly rapid advance. General Patch 
had orally instructed the 25th Division commander that if the attack pro- 
gressed well, the 161st Infantry was to push past the day's objective to take 
Hills 88 and 89 without waiting for the 27th to reach Hill 87. 14 But the 27th 
had reached its objective while the assault battalion of the 161st was still deep 
in the jungle. Colonel Jurney's battalion therefore advanced past the objective. 
While A Company held Hill 87, B Company went forward 500 yards to seize 
Hill 88 and C Company advanced 1,000 yards west and north to take Hill 89 
by 1035. 15 By 1100 all companies were in place and digging in. 

General Collins witnessed this rapid advance from the division observation 
post on Hill 49 east of the Matanikau. In view of General Patch's instructions 
to go beyond the objective if possible, General Collins, who in Admiral Hal- 
sey's words was "quick on his feet and even quicker in his brain," 16 left the 
observation post and started toward Hill 89 by jeep and on foot to make ar- 
rangements to continue the attack, for the 27th Infantry had outrun its wire 
communications. Reaching Hill 66, he met Brig. Gen. Robert L. Spragins, the 
Corps chief of staff, and obtained authority from him, in the name of the Corps 
commander, to continue the 25th Division's advance into Kokumbona as rap- 
idly as possible. The boundary between the two divisions was immediately 
changed to place Hills 91, 98, 99, and Kokumbona in the 25th Division's zone. 
It then ran north to the beach in front of the CAM Division's zone of action. 17 

18 27th Inf Journal, 22 Jan 43. 
14 25th Div Opns, p. 9. 

16 27th Inf Journal, 22 Jan 43. 

ie Admiral Halsey's Story, p. 140. 

17 25th Div Opns, pp. 9-10; interv with Gen Collins, 5 Dec 46. 



SECOND JANUARY OFFENSIVE 



3^7 



General Collins reached Hill 89, where he conferred with the 27th Infan- 
try's commander, Colonel McCulloch. As the 27th was obviously best situated 
to pursue the retreating Japanese, General Collins and Colonel McCulloch 
agreed that the 27th Infantry should resume the attack to capture Hills 90 and 
97 just south of Kokumbona. 18 The 2d Battalion of the 161 st, then deep in the 
jungle, continued toward Hill 87 against a few Japanese riflemen. It gained its 
objective in the afternoon. The 1st and 3d Battalions of the 161st were imme- 
diately withdrawn from the south flank and dispatched to the Galloping Horse 
and the Snake. 

The main body of the 3d Battalion of the 27th Infantry had followed the 
1 st Battalion over the Snake to Hills 87 and 88. I Company, in covering the 
right flank, kept contact with the i82d Infantry in the CAM Division's zone. 
E Company of the 2d Battalion moved from the Galloping Horse to the Snake's 
head in the early morning, and later in the morning the rest of the battalion 
marched to the Snake to guard the regimental supply route. 

The 1 st Battalion, 27th Infantry, began its advance north to Hill 90 about 
1400. With B Company in reserve, A and C attacked abreast. The 8th Field 
Artillery Battalion and D Company's heavy weapons on Hill 89 supported the 
infantry. Again the soldiers advanced rapidly and overran a few enemy rifle- 
men in the deep valley between Hills 89 and 90. By 1700 Colonel Jurney's bat- 
talion, having covered nearly 2,000 more yards, had reached its objective, the 
high ground east and south of Kokumbona — Hills 90 and 98. 19 

The 27th's fast advance necessitated displacement of the artillery. The 64th 
Field Artillery Battalion, freed by the impending collapse of the Gifu, took 
over the missions of the 8th while that battalion moved across the Matanikau to 
Hill 66. On 22-23 January the 90th Field Artillery Battalion also moved its 
howitzers across the Matanikau to the Point Cruz area. During the displace- 
ment the 89th Field Artillery Battalion fired all general support missions, and 
on 23 January moved forward to Hill 49 east of the Matanikau. Only the 64th 
Field Artillery Battalion remained in its original position. 
Second Day: The Capture of Kokjimbona 

The 27th Infantry's successful attack on 2? January carried it to the high 
ground immediately overlooking Kokumbona. In one day the 1st Battalion had 
gained over 4,500 yards and by nightfall the 2d and 3d Battalions were close 
behind. The supply route was protected, and the regiment was ready to exploit 

18 25th Div Opns, pp. 9-10, 49, 67. 

19 XIV Corps G — 3 Journal, 22 Jan 43, 




U.S. LEADERS INSPECTING THE BATTLE ZONE from a hill near the Matani\au 
( probably Hill 49). Left to right: Secretary of the Navy Fran\ Knox, General Patch, Admiral 
Nimitz, Admiral Halsey, and General Collins. 




A JAPANESE COASTAL POSITION near Ko\umbona, in the 6th Marines' zone, after it 
had been blasted open by artillery. The position apparently had housed a jymm. antiaircraft 
gun. 



SECOND JANUARY OFFENSIVE 329 

its success by moving into Kokumbona. Plans to take Kokumbona on 23 Janu- 
ary were completed on the night of 22-23 January. On the morning of 23 
January the 3d Battalion, 27th, advanced north from its positions on Hills 89 
and 91 to Hills 98 and QQ. |(M ap XX)| While the 1st Battalion's advance blocked 



the Japanese on the south, the 3d Battalion's move extended the regiment's 
right flank over the undefended hills to the beach to block the hills and the 
beach road and pocket the enemy facing the CAM Division in the ravines east 
of Hills 98 and 99. 

Once the 3d Battalion was in position, the 1st Battalion, with E Company 
and one K Company platoon attached, sent two columns into Kokumbona 
from the east and south. The right flank column — B Company, the platoon 
from K, and one machine gun platoon and two mortar sections — attacked 
westward over the northern and western slopes of Hill 99. On the left A and E 
Companies plus one machine gun platoon and two mortar sections advanced 
north over Hill 90 into Kokumbona. By 1510 the two columns had each trav- 
eled over 1,000 yards to join forces in the village. 

In the afternoon the 2d Battalion was ordered to hold the hills just south 
of Kokumbona (Hills 90 and 97), and to advance west through the jungle 
north of Hill 97 to complete the defense of the left flank by seizing Hill 100, 
about 500 yards beyond the west slopes of Hill 97. G Company assumed the 
defense of Hill 90, and Battalion Headquarters and H Companies extended 
their lines west to Hill 97. F Company moved west and killed about thirty 
Japanese in the jungled draw between Hills 97 and 100 cut by the Beaufort 
Bay trail and by the Kokumbona River, and took Hill 100 without suffering 
casualties. 20 

The nights were generally uneventful. The American troops built strong 
defenses each night, but the retreating Japanese attempted none of the night 
attacks which had previously characterized their operations on Guadalcanal. 
After the capture of Kokumbona, I Company of the 3d Battalion, 27th, blocked 
the road between Hill 99 and the beach. After nightfall on 23-24 January, a 
group of Japanese soldiers carelessly marched west along the road, talking, 
using flashlights, and wheeling a 37-mm. gun. Obviously unaware that the 
Americans had reached the beach, they walked right into I Company's block. 
The men in the company lay quiet until the Japanese were close, then opened 
fire with all weapons that would bear and killed about fifty of the enemy. 



20th Div Opns, pp. 55-56: Mitchell. Notes, id Bn. 27th Inf. 



33° 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



CAM Divisions Offensive 

In the coast zone on the right of the 25th Division, marines and soldiers 
had been pressing forward prior to 22 January, supported by Americal and 2d 
Marine Division artillery and American destroyers firing from offshore. The 
2d Marine Division's attacks from 13 and 17 January had advanced the line 
almost one mile beyond Point Cruz. When the battle-weary 2d and 8th Marines 
were relieved and returned to the perimeter defense. General Patch had at- 
tached the relatively fresh 1st and 2d Battalions of the i82d Infantry and the 1st 
and 3d Battalions of the 147th Infantry to the 2d Division to form the CAM 
Division. 21 

The i82d Infantry (less the 3d Battalion) moved into line on the left of 
the 6th Marines on 17 January. 22 By nightfall of 19 January the two regiments 
had advanced west slightly over 1,000 yards. 23 Progress was slow on the left on 
19 January, although there was no heavy fighting. A gap developed between 
the 6th Marines and the i82d Infantry, and when the latter regiment halted 
short of the day's objective the 6th Marines also stopped. Only sixteen Japanese 
were killed during the advance on 19 January. 24 As a result of the halts and 
confusion on 19 January, some bitterness apparently arose between the two 
regiments. 

By late afternoon of the same day the Americal Reconnaissance Squadron 
had relieved the 147th Infantry at Koli Point, and the 147th moved up to the 
Point Cruz area. 25 On 20 January the 3d Battalion, 147th (plus C Company and 
less I Company) began moving into the front line between the 6th Marines 
and the i82d Infantry. As the two battalions were not completely in position 
until 21 January, the CAM Division did not move forward. 26 

On 22 January the division opened a full-scale attack as part of the Corps 
offensive. Units from all three regiments participated; the 6th Marines attacked 
on the right along the beach, the 147th Infantry advanced in the center, and 
on the left the i82d Infantry maintained contact with the 25th Division. The 

81 XIV Corps Opn Memo No. 7, 16 Jan 43, in i82d Inf Journal, 16 Jan 43. 
32 i82d Inf Opn Rpt, p. 8. 

38 Rad, CG XIV Corps to COMSOPAC, 20 Jan 43. XIV Corps G-3 Journal. 

24 XIV Corps G— 2 Summary, 20 Jan 43; USMC, Guadalcanal Campaign, p. 93; ltr, former D-3, 2d Mar 
Div to Comdt Mar Corps, sub: Completion Rpt Opn Sec 2d Mar Div, Jan 17—20, 1943. A copy is in the files 
of the Hist Div, SSUSA. 

28 Synopsis of tel and rad msgs, in XIV Corps G-3 Journal, 19 Jan 43. 

ae Synopsis of tel and rad msgs, D-3 2d Mar Div to G-3 XIV Corps; 2d Mar Div D-3 Log. XIV Corps 
G— 3 Journal, 22 Jan 43. 




TERRAIN OF THE BATTLE FOR KOKUMBONA as seen from an altitude of y, 5 oo feet. 
With the exception of the grassy, open hills and a narrow band of coconut palms along the 
coast, the area is covered by dense jungle ( dar\ areas). 



33^ 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



attack, which opened at 0630, was supported by the artillery of the Americal 
and 2d Marine Divisions, and by aircraft and naval gunfire. In the zones of the 
147th and i82d Infantry Regiments the terrain offered the only serious resistance 
to the advance. By 1600 G Company of the i82d had made contact with the 
27th Infantry north of Hill 88. 27 The 147th Infantry seized Hill 95, and patrols 
from that regiment met some machine-gun fire in the ravine to the west. 28 

The beach was the scene of the day's hardest fighting. An estimated 250 
Japanese who were occupying the ravine just west of Hill 94 stopped the ad- 
vance of the 3d Battalion of the 6th Marines with machine and antitank guns. 
The 2d Battalion of the 6th, on the 3d Battalion's left, halted to protect its 
flank. 29 The CAM Division had advanced about 1,000 yards, but its front lines 
were still some 1,000 yards east of the high ground (Hills 98 and 99) east of 
Kokumbona. 

The division resumed its attack the next morning, 23 January, the day on 
which the 27th Infantry captured Kokumbona. The i82d Infantry advanced 
1,000 yards to its objective, Hill 91, keeping contact with the 25th Division on 
the left and the 147th Infantry on the right? The 147th Infantry advanced 
slowly against enemy strong points on the north slopes of Hill 92 and on the 
coast road. All three battalions of the 6th Marines were committed to action. 
Though meeting small-arms and artillery fire, they captured Hill 92 and .de- 
stroyed three 150-mm. guns, one light tank, two 37-mm. guns, and two ma- 
chine guns. 31 

By the end of the fighting on 23 January, the XIV Corps had pocketed the 
main body of Japanese remaining east of the Poha in the ravine east of Hill (99. 
On 24 January the CAM Division resumed its advance. Soldiers of the 147th, 
attacking to the northwest, killed eighteen Japanese and reached Hill 98, where 
they made contact with the 27th Infantry by 0940. 82 The 6th Marines attacked 
and killed over 200 Japanese. By 1500 all three battalions had gained Hills 98 
and 99 and had made contact with the 27th Infantry. 83 

97 2d Bn, i82d Inf, S-2 Journal, 22 Jan 43. 

28 2d Mar Div I>-2 Rpt, 22 Jan 43, in 18 2d Inf S-2 Rpts, i8id Inf Opn Rpt; XIV Corps G-2 Summary, 
23 Jan 43. 

89 Opn Overlay in 25th Div Journal, 22 Jan 43; XIV Corps G-2 Summary, 23 Jun 43. 

80 Opn Overlay in 25th Div Journal, 24 Jan 43. 

81 XIV Corps G-3 Journal, 23 Jan 43. 

" 147th Inf Journal, 25 Jan 43 ; 2d Mar Div D-2 Rpt, 24 Jan 43, in i82d Inf Opn Rpt. 
88 Synopsis of tel and rad msgs, D-3 2d Mar Div to G-3 XIV Corps, 24 Jan 43, in XIV Corps G-3 
Journal; 2d Mar Div D-2 Rpt, 24 Jan 43, in i82d Inf Opn Rpt; XIV Corps G-2 Summary, 25 Jan 43. 



SECOND JANUARY OFFENSIVE 



333 



Final Push to the Poha 

With the CAM Division moving up to Hills 98 and 99 on 24 January, the 
25th Division was able to continue the Corps plan to advance beyond Kokum- 
bona. The 27th Infantry was again best situated to make the attack. Colonel 
Mitchell's 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry, took over the assault. E Company was 
released from service with the 1st Battalion and rejoined the 2d Battalion. 
Colonel McCulloch, the regimental commander, attached K Company of the 
27th Infantry to the 2d Battalion when troops of the 147th Infantry took over 
K Company's position on Hill 98. The 27th Infantry's objective was the Poha 
River, whose mouth lies about 2,300 yards northwest of the west tip of Hill 100 
and about 2,600 yards northwest of Kokumbona. 

Supplies had run short, but the capture of the Kokumbona beaches made 
it possible for landing craft to bring supplies in by water. By noon enough sup- 
plies had reached the 2d Battalion to enable it to move out of Kokumbona. 34 
Supported by H Company's machine guns and mortars on Hill 97, K and E 
Companies attacked west at 1300 on the right, with K Company's right flank 
on the beach. E Company, on K's left, attempted to drive over Hill 102, a bare 
hill just west of Kokumbona, but a vigorous Japanese defense held the com- 
pany on the west tip. To avoid exposing its left flank, K Company halted, and 
both companies stayed in place for the rest of the day. 

On the left G Company, with the antitank platoon of Battalion Headquar- 
ters Company and six machine guns from H Company attached, began its 
advance north from Hill 97; it turned northwest to attempt to seize Hill 103, 
about 250 yards beyond Hill 100. When G Company tried to cross one of the 
dry stream beds north of Hill 100, fire from the same well-hidden enemy posi- 
tions that had halted E Company hit G Company from three sides. Colonel 
Mitchell ordered the company back. It withdrew and approached Hill 103 by 
moving safely around the south slopes of Hill 100, which protected G Company 
from the enemy fire. By nightfall it had reached Hill 103. 

The 27th Infantry attacked in greater strength the next day, 25 January, 
again with orders to reach the Poha. Colonel Bush's 3d Battalion, which had 
been relieved on Hills 98 and 99 by the 6th Marines, was to attack along the 
beach west of Kokumbona, while the 2d Battalion on the left advanced to Hills 
105 and 106 overlooking the Poha. K Company was detached from the 2d Bat- 
talion and ordered to clean out the Japanese between Hills 102 and 103. 

34 25th Div Opns, p. 56. 



334 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



The 3d Battalion left its lines on Hills 98 and 99, and passed through the 
1 st Battalion in Kokumbona about noon to advance northwest in columns of 
companies. L Company led, followed by I, Battalion Headquarters, and M 
Companies. 35 Deployed on a 400-yard front to comb the jungle, L Company 
advanced slowly. At 1600 Colonel Bush decided to narrow his front in order 
to speed the advance sufficiently to reach the Poha before dark. I Company 
passed through L Company, and moved northwest along the coast road. A few 
Japanese riflemen opposed the 3d Battalion, which killed about thirty-five of 
the enemy during the day. 

Colonel Bush's battalion reached the Poha area in late afternoon. Colonel 
Bush, who had only a crayon map to guide him, had difficulty in finding the 
correct river. The Poha channel, like many other rivers on Guadalcanal, splits 
and wanders over alluvial bars as it nears the sea to form a small delta cut by 
several sluggish streams. Colonel Bush's troops, who were out of physical contact 
with the 2d Battalion, crossed six such streams, each one of which was part of 
the Poha, although the map represented the Poha to be a single stream. The 
battalion commander therefore requested the artillery to drop a round 1,000 
yards oflshore, opposite the Poha's mouth as shown on the map. When the shell 
fell into the channel behind him, Colonel Bu.sh concluded that he had crossed 
the Poha and ordered his battalion to bivouac. The troops constructed a perim- 
eter defense in a coconut grove, which is shown on aerial photographs as west 
of the river's main stream. 36 

Meanwhile the 2d Battalion was advancing to Hills 105 and 106. E Com- 
pany passed through G on Hill 103 and advanced without fighting over steep 
hills and jungled ravines to reach Hills 105 and 106 by dusk. The battalion 
blocked the area extending from its front southeastward to the hill mass south 
of Kokumbona. 37 About fifty Japanese were killed on the night of 25-26 Janu- 
ary at the stream and trail blocks. 38 

The two battalions regained contact at 0700, 26 January, when one platoon 
from L Company patrolled south along the Poha to meet F Company. The 2d 
and 3d Battalions held the Poha line until the 6th Marines and i82d Infantry 
passed through the lines about noon to pursue the Japanese up the north coast. 
To meet an apparent enemy threat to land once more on Guadalcanal in 

36 3d Bn, 27th Inf, Activities, p. 4. 
" Interv with Col Bush, 15 Aug 46. 
• 87 XIV Corps G-3 Journal, 25 Jan 43. 
a8 Mitchell, Notes, 2d Bn, 27th Inf. 



SECOND JANUARY OFFENSIVE 



335 



force, XIV Corps headquarters sent the 25th Division back to the perimeter 
defense to guard Henderson and Carney Fields. 39 

The 27th Infantry's successful January attacks had cost that regiment few 
casualties. Seven officers and 67 enlisted men had been killed in January and 226 
wene wounded, largely in the capture of the Galloping Horse. 40 Losses in 
Kokumbona had been light. 

Kokumbona, formerly an important enemy landing beach, trail junction, 
and assembly area, was now in American hands. In addition the 27th Infantry 
had captured the highest ground dominating the landing beaches between Ko- 
kumbona and Cape Esperance, an enemy radar station, trucks, landing craft, ten 
field artillery pieces, two 37-mm. guns, three 40-mm. antiaircraft guns, flame 
throwers, and ammunition, besides killing over 400 of the enemy. 41 Had the 
Japanese attempted to land, they would have encountered greater difficulties in 
getting inland to envelop the perimeter defense than they did in October, for 
the XIV Corps held the important trail junctions in Kokumbona and domi- 
nated the landing beaches to the northwest. With the enemy retreating, the 
task facing the XIV Corps was to pursue and destroy the remnants of the iyth 
Army before they could reach Cape Esperance to escape or dig in for a suicidal 
stand like that of the determined defenders of the Gifu. 

39 25th Div Opns, p. 10. 

40 27th Inf Combat Rpt. 

41 3d Bn, 27th Inf, Activities, p. 4; rad, CG Guadalcanal to COMSOPAC, 0306 of 25 Jan 43, in 
USAFISPA G-3 Worksheet File, 16-31 Jan 43. 



CHAPTER XV 

Final Operations on Guadalcanal 



By the first week of February 1943, the American forces in the South 
Pacific expected the Japanese to make another full-scale attempt to retake the 
Guadalcanal positions. The Japanese were known to be massing naval strength 
at Rabaul and Buin, and enemy air attacks were being intensified. 

Admiral Halsey's naval strength had increased greatly since November 
1942. Expecting a major Japanese attack, he deployed six naval task forces 
south of Guadalcanal by 7 and 8 February, including seven battleships, two 
aircraft carriers, and three escort carriers plus cruisers and destroyers. 1 The XIV 
Corps on Guadalcanal anticipated an attack by 2 aircraft carriers, 5 battleships, 
about 8 cruisers, n transports, 28 destroyers, 304 land-based aircraft, from 150 
to 175 carrier-based aircraft, and one infantry division. 2 General Patch prepared 
to resist enemy attempts to land by deploying the large part of his corps be- 
tween the Umasani and Metapona Rivers, and also decided to continue to pur- 
sue the retreating iyth Army to Cape Esperance. 3 But Allied intelligence agen- 
cies had erred in their estimate of Japanese intentions. 

Japanese Plans 

After a long succession of failures, the Japanese high command had at 
last decided to abandon its efforts to drive the Americans from Guadalcanal. 
This decision harked back to October and November of 1942, when the defeats 
had caused concern in Imperial General Headquarters in Tokyo. The 1st 
Marine Division's successful defense of the Lunga airfields against the ijth 
Army reduced the number of Japanese troops available for campaigning in 
New Guinea. The Japanese clearly realized that the Solomons and New Guinea 

1 Halsey, Narrative Account of the South Pacific Campaign, p. 5; ONI, USN, Combat Narratives: Solo- 
mon Islands Campaign, VIII, Japanese Evacuation of Guadalcanal, 29 January 1943-8 February 1943 (Wash- 
ington, 1944), pp. 26, 45-50; rad, COMSOPAC to CG XIV Corps, 1 Feb 43, in XIV Corps G-3 Journal. 

2 XIV Corps FO No. 3, 5 Feb 43, (Annex No. 1, 6 Feb 43) in Amer Div G-3 Journal; 25th Div G-3 
Rpts for 21, 24, 25, 28, and 29 Jan 43. 

"XIV Corps FO No. 3. 



FINAL OPERATIONS ON GUADALCANAL 



337 



campaigns were integral parts of one whole. 4 Attempting to reinforce Guadal- 
canal at the expense of New Guinea, the Japanese lost the campaign. 5 

Following the failure of General Hyakutake's ijth Army in October, Im- 
perial General Headquarters decided to use stronger additional forces to retake 
the Lunga area. The attempt to transport the 38th Division in force to Guadal- 
canal, resulting in the naval and air actions of mid-November, had been de- 
cided on by the local Japanese commanders. It had not been the result of direct 
orders from Imperial General Headquarters, which had arrived at its decision 
for a third offensive on 15 November, 6 

Accordingly Gen. Hitoshi Imamura, commanding the 8th Area Army, 
left Java to assume control of operations in the Solomons and Eastern New 
Guinea. He arrived at Rabaul on 2 December 1942. During the month follow- 
ing Imamura's arrival, 50,000 troops of the 8th Area Army, including elements 
of the 4th Air Army, reached Rabaul. Imamura's command operated directly 
under the command of Imperial General Headquarters. It included the Japa- 
nese Army forces in Rabaul, the Solomons, and Eastern New Guinea — the ijth 
Army in the Solomons and the 18th Army in eastern New Guinea. 7 Imamura 
planned to recapture the Lunga airfields by landing two more divisions on 
Guadalcanal. The air strip then under construction at Munda Point on New 
Georgia would have provided advanced air support. The date of the attack was 
to be about 1 February 1943. 8 

Problems of transportation and supply caused the projected counteroffen- 
sive to be canceled. Prior to December 1942 the Japanese lost about twenty 
troop transports in the Solomons. 9 After the November disaster the Japanese 
never again used transports to reinforce or supply Guadalcanal. Although Ima- 
mura had 50,000 men at his disposal at Rabaul in January 1943, he could not 
deploy them. General Miyazaki declared: 

The superiority and continuous activity of the American air force was responsible for our 
inability to carry out our plans. The superiority of American Army [sic] planes made the seas 
safe for American movement in any direction and at the same time immobilized the Japanese 
Army as if it were bound hand and foot. 10 

4 Miyazaki, Personal Account, p. 5. 

* Ibid., pp. 2-3; USSBS, Interrogations, II, 409; Allied Campaign Against Rabaul, p. 89. 

9 ijth Army Opns, I; Miyazaki, Personal Account, p. 9, Allied Campaign Against Rabaul, pp. 9, 83-84. 
7 Ibid., pp. 82-87. 

B 17th Army Opns, II; Allied Campaign Against Rabaul, pp. 82-87. 
e Ibid., p. 89. 

10 Miyazaki, p. 7. At peak strength in May 1943, Imamura's forces totaled 200,000 men, including 20,000 
troops and 300 planes of the 4th Air Army — Allied Campaign Against Rabaul, p. 84. 



33» 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Japanese ship losses in the Solomons forced Imperial General Headquar- 
ters, on 31 December, to cancel the proposed counteroffensive ; on 4 January 
Imamura and Vice Adm. Jinichi Kusaka, commanding the Southeastern Fleet, 
were ordered to evacuate the survivors from Guadalcanal and to hold final 
defensive positions in New Georgia. 11 

The American corps offensive which began on 10 January had torn great 
holes in the Japanese front lines. General Hyakutake recognized that he could 
no longer maintain troops in the Kokumbona area. In December the Japanese 
front line troops had been ordered to hold their positions until the last man was 
dead, but sometime after the XIV Corps attacked, Hyakutake changed his 
mind. He ordered his troops to withdraw west to Cape Esperance, where they 
were to offer "desperate resistance." 12 

The Japanese prepared to deceive the American forces in order to cover 
the rescue of a sizable body of troops from Guadalcanal. Massing strength at 
Rabaul, for a time they intensified their air attacks against Henderson Field to 
lead Allied forces to expect another major Japanese attempt at landing on 
Guadalcanal. 

The Japanese put about 600 replacements ashore near Cape Esperance on 
14 January to cover the withdrawal, while an additional covering force landed 
for a short time in the Russell Islands. The Japanese planned to remove their 
troops from Cape Esperance at night by destroyers, cramming 600 men aboard 
each vessel. 13 In the event that American air and naval forces drove the de- 
stroyers off, barges were to carry the troops to the Russells, where the destroy- 
ers would pick them up for the trip north. 14 

By 8 February General Patch was no longer convinced that the Japanese 
would attempt a landing to recapture the airfields. They were known to be 
withdrawing supplies from Doma Cove, and Patch expressed his belief that the 
Tokyo Express was evacuating the remaining Japanese. 15 Aerial photographs 
of the Cape Esperance area would have shown conclusively whether the enemy 
forces there were being evacuated or reinforced, but XIV Corps headquarters 

11 Ibid., pp. 9, 45, 84, 89; 17th Army Opns, II. 

12 Miyazaki, Personal Account, p. 10. 

18 17th Army Opns, I; Allied Campaign Against Rabaul, p. 45. The Americal Division Report calls the 
14 January unit a battalion of rear guard specialists; XIV Corps Report lists it correctly as the Yano or Yanno 
Battalion, from its commander's name. I to stated that this battalion came from the 6th Division. Interv with 
Gen Sebree. Allied Campaign Against Rabaul calls the Guadalcanal force a regiment. 

14 Allied Campaign Against Rabaul, p. 45. 

15 161st Inf Journal, 8 Feb 43; 2d Mar Div D-2 Rpt, 5 Feb 43, in Amer Div G-2 Journal; rad, CG 
Cactus to COMSOPAC, 1 115 of 8 Feb 43, in USAFISPA G-3 Worksheet File, 1-15 Feb 43. 



CAPE ESPERANCE 




THE NORTHWEST COAST OF GUADALCANAL, scene of the final battle to trap and 
destroy the Japanese on the island. A large coconut plantation can be seen in the foreground 
and, toward the top left, a smoke burst marking the approximate front line at the time this 
picture was ta\en. 



340 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



could not obtain photographic coverage on 7 and 8 February. One squadron, 
flying P-38's, of the 17th Photographic Reconnaissance Group had just relieved 
the 2d Marine Air Wing of reconnaissance duties on Guadalcanal. The 17th 
had good planes and cameras but did not possess filters for the camera lenses, 
nor proper paper on which to print pictures. 16 Thus General Patch had no way 
of determining exactly what General Hyakutake's troops at Cape Esperance 
were doing. 

Pursuit of the Enemy 

The North Coast 

When the XIV Corps reached the Poha River on 25 January, the American 
offensive was ready to enter its final phase — the pursuit of the retreating enemy. 
Enemy intentions and dispositions at this time were not clear. In general, the 
Americans did not expect to meet a formidable Japanese force but they did 
expect the Japanese to defend the beach road and the Bonegi River line. 17 While 
few Japanese prisoners had been taken in January, a study of captured documents 
led to the belief that the beach was defended by troops of the 2d Division. 1 * 

West of the Poha River the terrain resembles that of the Point Cruz-Ko- 
kumbona area. The coastal corridor is generally narrow; the distance from the 
beach inland to the foothills varies from 300 to 600 yards. The coral ridges run 
north and south; the coastal flats are cut by a great many streams. There were 
no bridges. The lack of room for maneuver limited the size of the pursuing 
force, and allowed, in most areas, only enough space for the deployment of one 
regiment. 19 

XIV Corps' Field Order No. 2 of 25 January 1943 directed the CAM Divi- 
sion to pass through the 25th Division at the Poha line to attack west at 0630, 
26 January. The 6th Marines on the beach and the i82d Infantry on the high 
ground inland were to attack abreast; the 147th Infantry was to be in division 
reserve. Americal and 25th Division artillery, and the 2d Marine Air Wing, 
would support the offensive. 20 Wishing to locate and destroy the remaining 

16 Interv with Col Long, 26 Mar 46. 

17 Compare 147th Inf Journal, 28 Jan 43, with 147th Inf FO No. 8, 29 Jan 43. 

18 Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab A; XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, p. 6. 
lfl Ltr, Col Long to Col Buckley, 21 Mar 43. 

80 XIV Corps FO No. 2, 25 Jan 43, in Amer Div G-3 Journal; 147th Inf FO No. 7, 25 Jan 43. 25th 
Division (less detachments) was in Corps reserve; 3d Battalion, i82d Infantry, elements of 35th Infantry, and 
161st Infantry were to cover the Corps left flank from the Sea Horse to the Poha. 



FINAL OPERATIONS ON GUADALCANAL 



34 1 



Japanese forces, General Patch ordered his troops to "effect the kill through 
aggressive and untiring offensive action." 21 

The CAM Division attacked on 26 January and advanced 1,000 yards be- 
yond the Poha. 22 (Map XXl\ There was little fighting; the i82d Infantry met 



only stragglers and a few riflemen and machine gunners. The tempo of the 
advance increased the next day, and the CAM Division, gaining 2,000 yards, 
reached the Nueha River. Patrols met some enemy machine gunners west of 
the Nueha on 28 January, but reported that the Japanese were not aggressive. 28 

On 29 January General Patch detached the 147th Infantry from the CAM 
Division. To that regiment he attached the 75-mm. pack howitzers of the 2d 
Battalion, 10th Marines, and of A Battery of the 97th Field Artillery Battalion. 
This composite force, under General De Carre's command, was to pursue the 
enemy. Americal Division artillery was to give general support. The 6th 
Marines were to cover the i47th's rear. The i82d Infantry then reverted to con- 
trol of the Americal Division in the Lunga perimeter. 24 

The 147th Infantry passed through the lines west of the Nueha to attack 
about 0700, 30 January. On the beach the 1st Battalion advanced against light 
opposition to the mouth of the Bonegi River, about 2,000 yards west of the 
Nueha. One patrol crossed the river about 1152. Inland on the left flank, Japa- 
nese machine guns stopped the 3d Battalion 1,000 yards east of the Bonegi. 
When Japanese on the west bank placed heavy fire on the 1st Battalion, the 
patrol withdrew from the west bank and the battalion pulled back from the 
river mouth. 26 

On 31 January the 147th Infantry again attacked with the intention of 
crossing the Bonegi to capture the high ground west of the river. Both bat- 
talions were assisted by artillery preparations and gunfire from an American 
destroyer standing offshore. In the inland zone the 3d Battalion crossed the 
Bonegi and captured part of the ridges on the west bank, about 2,500 yards 
inland from Tassafaronga Point. The enemy was defending the river mouth in 
strength and Japanese patrols infiltrated to the east bank to harass the 1st Bat- 

21 XIV Corps memo, 26 Jan 43, in Amer Div G— 2 Journal. 

22 i82d Inf Opn Rpt, p. 9. 

28 XIV Corps G— 2 Summary, 28-29 Jan 43. Reports written during the campaign erroneously called the 
Nueha the Mamara River. 

24 XIV Corps Opn Memo No. n, 28 Jan 43, in Amer Div G-3 Journal. Soldiers and mules of A, B, 
Headquarters, and Service Batteries of 97th FA Battalion, a 75-mm. mule pack unit, had landed on Guadal- 
canal on 16, 27, and 30 January 1943 to serve as part of Corps artillery. See 97th FA Bn Hist, 1 Jan-30 Jun 
43. PP- 2 ~3 in HRS DRB AGO. 

2B 147th Inf Journal, 30 Jan 43; XIV Corps G-3 Journal, 30 Jan 43. 



34 2 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



talion. Despite the Destroyer's fire and two artillery barrages, the ist Battalion 
could not get across but was held in place about 300 yards east of the Bonegi. 

Between 10 and 31 January the XIV Corps' operations had been quite 
successful. The Corps had driven the Japanese back seven miles at a cost of 189 
soldiers and marines killed and about 400 wounded. One hundred and five 
Japanese had been captured, and 4,000 were estimated to have been killed. The 
Corps had also captured 240 Japanese machine guns, 42 field pieces, 10 anti- 
aircraft guns, 9 antitank guns, 142 mortars, 323 rifles, 18 radios, 1 radar, 13 
trucks, 6 tractors, and 1 staff car, besides a quantity of ammunition, land mines, 
flame throwers, and piles of documents. 28 

On 1 February command of the western pursuit passed from General De 
Carre to General Sebree. 27 The ist Battalion of the 147th again vainly at- 
tempted to cross the river to join forces with the 3d Battalion on the west bank. 
The destroyer and the field artillery fired into the Bonegi River valley, and 
patrols, finding that the enemy had withdrawn from the east bank, reached the 
river mouth by 1525, but the battalion did not cross. The Japanese unit holding 
the west bank was a delaying force from the covering battalion which the 
Japanese had landed on 14 January. 28 

The 147th Infantry's attacks on 2 February were more successful. The ist 
Battalion, supported by artillery, crossed the Bonegi at its mouth, and by 1710 
the ist and 3d Battalions had made contact south of Tassafaronga. 29 The river 
crossing cost the 147th two killed and sixty-seven wounded. 30 The 147th Infan- 
try estimated that 700-800 Japanese troops had occupied the positions east and 
west of the Bonegi. They had executed an orderly withdrawal, but the Ameri- 
cans captured a mobile machine shop, a signal blinker, two 70-mm. guns, eight 
75-mm. guns, and a radio station. 81 

On 3 February, while the main body of the pursuing force was establishing 
itself along a line running south from Tassafaronga Point, patrols reached the 
Umasani River, about 2,300 yards west of Tassafaronga. 32 The next day the 
main body advanced 1,000 yards farther on to a line about 1,000 yards southeast 

86 XIV Corps G-3 Periodic Rpt, 16-31 Jan 43, in USAFTSPA G-3 Worksheet File, 16-31 Jan 43. 

87 Amer Div Narrative of Opns, p. 5. 

28 jyth Army Opns, II; 147th Inf Journal, 1 Feb 43; 147th Inf Hist, Feb 43; 147th Inf Unit Rpt, 1 Feb 
43, in XIV Corps G-3 Journal. 
a * 147th Inf Journal, 1 Feb 43. 
80 147th Inf Hist, Feb 43. 

91 Rad, CG Cactus to COMSOPAC, 3 Feb 43, in USAFISPA G-3 Worksheet File, 1-15 Feb 43. 
82 XIV Corps G— 2 Summary, 4 Feb 43. 



FINAL OPERATIONS ON GUADALCANAL 



343 



of the Umasani River. A few Japanese fired on the 3d Battalion on the inland 
flank, but there was no heavy fighting. 33 On 5 February, operations on the west- 
ern front were limited to patrolling. Patrols again reconnoitered to the Uma- 
sani River, but found no organized enemy forces. 34 
The South Coast 

Meanwhile XIV Corps headquarters had completed plans to land a rein- 
forced infantry battalion on the southwest coast in the enemy's rear. From there 
the battalion was to advance to Cape Esperance in an attempt to trap the re- 
maining enemy forces. As early as October Admiral Turner and General 
Vandegrift had planned to land the 2d (Marine) Raider Battalion at Beaufort 
Bay on the south coast to operate against the enemy flanks and rear. The Japa- 
nese landings in October and November had led to the cancellation of these 
plans, and the raider battalion had been used instead to pursue some of the 
enemy troops who had landed at Koli Point. 35 

When General Patch assumed command on Guadalcanal, he desired to 
land an entire regimental combat team on the south coast to prevent further 
Japanese landings at Cape Esperance, Visale, and Kamimbo Bay, and to press 
against the enemy's rear. Naval forces were not then sufficient to transport and 
supply so large a body of men. During January 1943, however, six tank land- 
ing craft arrived at Tulagi to be based there permanently. 36 About 21 January 
it was decided that naval strength was adequate to make the landing with one 
reinforced infantry battalion. The reinforced 2d Battalion, i32d Infantry, was 
selected as the landing force, with Col. Alexander M. George in command. 

The landing force would not be sufficiently strong to land against enemy 
opposition, but General Patch wished it to land as close to the enemy as pos- 
sible. Troops from I Company of the 147th Infantry at Beaufort Bay were to 
outpost the area to cover the landing. Lt, Col. Paul A. Gavan, operations officer 
of the Americal Division and assistant operations officer of the XIV Corps, led 
a reconnaissance party along the south coast. It picked Titi, near Lavoro 
Passage, as the landing beach, and Nugu Point (Cape Nagle) as an alternate. 
Verahue, lying between the two, offered a good beach but Colonel Gavan feared 
that landing craft would not be able to reach the beach through the narrow 

33 147th Inf Journal, 4 Feb 43; XIV Corps G-2 Summary, 5 Feb 43. 

ai CAM Div D-3 Rpt, 6 Feb 43, in XIV Corps G-3 Journal; XIV Corps G-2 Summary, 6 Feb 43. 
35 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Int Annex N, 8. 

se O-in-C, LCT Flotilla 5, Nav Adv Base Ringbolt, Action Rpt, 3 Feb 43, Annex O to CINCPAC Ser 
00712, in Office of Naval Records and Library. 



344 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



channel lined with offshore reefs. An observation post, equipped with a radio, 
was established at Verahue. 87 

The covering force — eight riflemen and three gunners from I Company, 
plus machine gunners and automatic riflemen from M Company, 147th Infantry 
— boarded the island schooner Kocorana at Beaufort Bay at 0100, 31 January. 
The Kocorana, a local schooner which like others had been hidden from the 
Japanese and turned over to the Americans, sailed to Lavoro to discharge the 
force which was to outpost Titi. One officer and five riflemen from the schooner 
had pulled toward shore in a rowboat about 0600 when enemy troops on a 
ridge about 100 yards inland opened fire on the landing party and the Koco- 
rana and mortally wounded one soldier on board the schooner. Some confusion 
resulted; the landing party reached shore and the rowboat went adrift. Since 
the Kocorana could not be beached, Maj. FL W, Butler, executive officer of the 
2d Battalion, Infantry, took the helm and put out to sea, leaving the six 
men on shore. The Kocorana reached Beaufort Bay about 1600 to take fifteen 
more riflemen, two automatic riflemen, and three native scouts aboard. Major 
Butler intended to land his force near Verahue and to march overland to 
Lavoro to reinforce the six men ashore. 

In the meantime, the shore party at Titi had eluded the enemy and rec- 
ommended to XIV Corps headquarters by radio that the 2d Battalion, I32d 
Infantry, land at Nugu Point instead of Titi. When Butler and the Kocorana 
reached Nugu Point the next morning they found the six men there, safe. 38 

Meanwhile the reinforced 2d Battalion of the i32d Infantry had assembled 
and loaded trucks, artillery, ammunition, and rations on board six tank landing 
craft at Kukum. 39 By 1800, 31 January, when the last craft had been loaded, the 
force, escorted by destroyers, left Kukum and sailed around Cape Esperance. 40 
Arriving off Nugu Point at dawn on 1 February, an advance party went 
ashore in small craft and met Major Butler, who reported that Verahue was 
clear. When the naval beachmaster agreed that the landing craft could beach 
safely at Verahue, the expedition moved there and, covered by friendly fighter 
planes, began unloading. 41 About noon Japanese bombers flew over the beach 

87 Interv with Co] Gavan. 

38 Capt W. D. Foster (of XIV Corps G-2), Rpt, 5 Feb 43, in XIV Corps G-3 Journal. 

30 The entire force consisted of 2d Battalion, I3^d Infantry; Antitank Company, 13 2d; M Company (less 
one .50-caliber platoon), I32d; 1 rifle platoon, K Company, i32d; F Battery, 10th Marines (75-mm. pack 
howitzer), and engineer, medical, intelligence, and communication troops. I32d Inf Hist, p. 11. 

40 LCT Flotilla 5, Action Rpt, 3 Feb 43. 

41 Interv with Col Gavan, 14 Nov 46. 



FINAL OPERATIONS ON GUADALCANAL 



345 



but did not attack. By 1500 all troops and supplies were safely ashore, and the 
unloaded craft departed for the Lunga area. 42 

The next morning, 2 February, Colonel George's force began its advance. 
The main body moved along the beach, while G Company and twenty native 
scouts covered the high ground on the right flank. The coast between Verahue 
and Titi was passable for vehicles, and the trucks brought up some of the 
supplies. 43 By 14 15 the main body had marched 3^ miles to Titi. On 3 Febru- 
ary tank landing craft moved more supplies to Titi, while ground patrols ad- 
vanced as far as Kamimbo Bay. By 4 February, the whole expedition — troops, 
artillery, transport, and supplies — had reached Titi. 44 During the next two days 
the battalion remained in position, but continued patrolling to its front and 
its flanks. 45 

Beyond Titi, mud and jungle vegetation halted the trucks. Supplies then 
had to be carried by tank landing craft based at Kukum, one or two of which 
were usually available for Colonel George's men. The self-contained battalion 
combat team did not expect to be re-supplied or reinforced. The commanding 
officer therefore kept his supplies and main body of troops together to be pre- 
pared for an enemy counterattack or landing in strength. In the absence of 
accurate information about Japanese capabilities and intentions, Colonel 
George felt constrained to move cautiously. 46 

By 7 February the force was ready to move out of Titi. In column of com- 
panies, the battalion began the advance at 0730. When Colonel George was 
wounded in the leg on 7 February, Lt. Col. George F. Ferry, commanding 
the 2d Battalion, i32d, assumed command and Major Butler took over the 2d 
Battalion. 47 Shortly afterward Colonel Gavan, acting for General Patch, ar- 
rived by boat from XIV Corps headquarters "to speed things up." He found 
that the troops were ready to move rapidly and therefore did not alter the plans 
or dispositions. Colonel George was evacuated on the boat which had brought 
Colonel Gavan. 48 The battalion advanced to Marovovo and bivouacked there 
for the night. 

42 LCT Flotilla 5, Action Rpt, 3 Feb 43; 132c! Inf Hist, p. 11. Since data in the 1 33d Infantry Journal 
on this operation are confusing, the 132c! Infantry History is the best source. 

43 Interv with Col Gavan. 

44 Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab A. 

45 132c! Inf Hist, pp. 1 1-12. 

46 Interv with Col Gavan. 

47 1 32d Inf Hist* p. 1 2. 

48 Interv with Col Gavan. 



346 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



The Junction of Forces 

General Patch, relieving the understrength 147th Infantry on the north 
coast on 6 February, ordered the 161st Infantry of the 25th Division to pass 
through the lath's lines to continue the pursuit. The 2d Battalion of the 10th 
Marines, the 97th Field Artillery Battalion, and Americal Division artillery 
were to support the 161 st. A supply dump which had been established at 
Kokumbona was to service the advancing force. 49 Command of the western 
pursuit was to have been given to General Collins on 6 February, but his divi- 
sion was assigned to defense positions in the Lunga-Metapona sector. General 
Sebree continued, therefore, to command the pursuit. 50 

The 161st Infantry, then commanded by Col. James L. Dalton, II, 51 passed 
through the 147th about 1000, 6 February. Preceded by patrols, the 3d Battalion 
moved along the beach; the 2d Battalion covered the foothills; and the 1st 
Battalion was in reserve. By 2020 the 161st Infantry had reached the Umasani 
River, and patrols had crossed the river. The day's only skirmish occurred when 
one patrol from L Company ran into a small Japanese force in a bivouac area 
on a ridge just west of the Umasani. The patrol killed at least seven of the 
enemy, and withdrew without losses. 52 

On 7 February the 161st crossed the Umasani and advanced to Bunina, 
while patrols penetrated to the Tambalego River, 1,200 yards farther on. The 
Japanese did not offer a resolute defense, but retired as soon as the American 
infantrymen attacked them. 53 The 161st Infantry encountered some Japanese 
at the Tambalego River on 8 February, but after a brief fight drove the enemy 
off and advanced to Doma Cove. 54 

Since coastwatchers had warned that about twenty enemy destroyers would 
reach the Cape Esperance area during the night of 7-8 February, Colonel 
Ferry's 2d Battalion of the i32d Infantry at Marovovo, about six miles southwest 
of Cape Esperance, expected action that night but saw no enemy. When the 
American soldiers left Marovovo on the morning of 8 February, they found 

49 XIV Corps Opn Memo No. 13, 4 Feb 43, USAFISPA G-3 Worksheet File, 1-15 Feb 43- 

60 XIV Corps Periodic Rpt, T-18 Feb 43, in USAFISPA G-3 Worksheet File, 1-15 Feb 43. 

51 Following the 22 January attack General Collins had relieved Colonel OrndorfT, who had fallen too 
ill from malaria ro continue in command. Interv with Gen Collins, 5 Dec. 46. 

t2 25th Div Opns, p. iog; 161st Inf Journal, 6 Feb 43, in misc docs from USAFISPA; XTV Corps G-2 
Summary, 7 Feb 43, lists 14 Japanese killed. 

53 25th Div Opns, p. 109; XIV Corps G-2 Summary, 8 Feb 43. Reports written during the campaign 
erroneously called the Tambalego the Segilau River. 

" 25th Div Opns, p. 110; 1 6 1 st Inf Hist, p. 3; XIV Corps G-2 Summary, 9 Feb 43. 




CAPE ESPER ANCE- Tenaro village ( in a palm grove seen near left edge of upper photo ) 
was the junction point where the two American forces linked at the end of the battle. Visale 
Pca\ (right) towers above a mission at the tip of the cape. Below: numerous weapons, in good 
condition, were abandoned along the way by enemy troops. 




34« 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



several abandoned Japanese landing craft and a stock of supplies on the beach, 65 
Realizing that the enemy was evacuating, the battalion narrowed its front and 
advanced to Kamimbo Bay. 56 

On 9 February the 2d Battalion, 161 st Infantry, which had been traveling 
over the uphill north coast flank on scanty rations, went into regimental reserve. 
The 1st Battalion, 161st, passed through the 3d Battalion at Doma Cove to take 
over the assault, and was followed closely by the 3d Battalion and the antitank 
company. By afternoon the 1st Battalion had marched five miles, crossed the 
Tenamba River, and entered the village of Tenaro. 

On the morning of 9 February, Colonel Ferry's force had started around 
Cape Esperance toward the same objective, the village of Tenaro, which was the 
point selected by Colonel Gavan for the forces to meet. Advancing in column 
of companies, the battalion met fire from some Japanese machine guns and 
mortars but did not halt. The infantrymen, who pushed on beyond the range 
of the 75-mm. pack howitzers of the supporting artillery, used their mortars 
for support. 57 Between 1600 and 1700 the 2d Battalion of the i32d Infantry 
marched into Tenaro and there met the 1st Battalion of the 161st Infantry, an 
event that marked the end of organized fighting on Guadalcanal. 58 Only scat- 
tered stragglers from the ijth Army remained on the island. 59 

General Patch, after the juncture of forces, sent the following message to 
Admiral Halsey: "Total and complete defeat of Japanese forces on Guadal- 
canal effected 1625 today . . . Am happy to report this kind of compliance with 
your orders . . . because Tokyo Express no longer has terminus on Guadal- 
canal." 60 The reply from South Pacific Headquarters was characteristic: "When 
I sent a Patch to act as tailor for Guadalcanal, I did not expect him to remove 
the enemy's pants and sew it on so quickly . . . Thanks and congratulations." 61 
The Japanese Evacuation 

While the American troops could feel justly elated over the end of Jap- 
anese resistance on Guadalcanal, they had let slip through their hands about 
13,000 of the enemy — by Japanese count. The western pursuit and the shore-to- 

50 Interv with Col Gavan. 
68 132c] Inf Hist, p. 12. 

57 Ibid.; interv with Col Gavan, 14 Nov 46. 

68 Amer Div Narrative of Opns, p. 5; I32d Inf Hist, p. 13; 25th Div Opns, p. 110. 

59 XIV Corps GO No. 29, 9 Feb 43, in 25th Div FO's; Airmailgram, CG Guadalcanal to COMSOPAC, 
10 Feb 43, in XIV Corps G-3 Journal. 

60 Rad, CG Cactus to COMSOPAC, 0718 of 9 Feb 43, in USAFISPA G-3 Worksheet File, 1-15 Feb 43- 
81 Ouoted in Admiral Halsey's Story, p. 148. 



FINAL OPERATIONS ON GUADALCANAL 



349 



shore envelopment had been boldly conceived but were executed too slowly to 
achieve their purpose — the complete destruction of the enemy. 

On 12 January, General Imamura had directed some of his staff officers to 
board a destroyer and proceed to Guadalcanal, there to give the iyth Army 
commander the instructions to evacuate. Hyakutake, receiving the order on 15 
January, explained the prospective movement to his men as "a change in the 
disposition of troop [s] for future offense." 62 

The iyth Army began its withdrawal to Cape Esperance on the night of 
22-23 January. The rescuing destroyers ran down the Slot to Esperance three 
times and evacuated troops on the nights of 1-2, 4-5, 7-8 February. 63 The 38th 
Division, some naval personnel, hospital patients, and others left first, followed 
by iyth Army headquarters and the 2d Division on 4-5 January, and by mis- 
cellaneous units on the last trip. 64 The Americans claimed that three of the 
destroyers were sunk and four were damaged. 65 About 13,000 Japanese — 12,000 
from the iyth Army and the rest naval personnel — were evacuated to Buin and 
RabauL 66 

In post-war interviews the Japanese commanders ironically expressed their 
gratitude over their escape. The Americans, they felt, had moved toward Cape 
Esperance too slowly and stopped too long to consolidate positions. General 
Hyakutake stated that resolute attacks at Cape Esperance would have de- 
stroyed his army. 67 



Summary 

The Japanese had displayed skill and cunning in evacuating the troops 
from Guadalcanal, but the essential significance of the Guadalcanal campaign 

92 iyth Army Opns, II, which states elsewhere that the iyth Army was ordered on 5-6 January to evacu- 
ate. Since the order had not then been issued by Imamura, it is obvious that "5—6 January" is either an error 
in the Japanese text or a mistranslation. 

63 iyth Army Opns, II; Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab A. XIV Corps, Enemy Opns, lists only 2 trips. Figures in 
Allied Campaign Against Rabaul vary from 12 destroyers, p. 5, to 15, p. 45. Interrogations, I, 81, states that 
20 were used. 

" iyth Army Opns, II. 

6 3 Compare interrog of Hyakutake, Miyazaki, Maruyama, and Sakai, and Allied Campaign Against 
Rabaul, p. 45, with Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab A. 

6b iyth Army Opns, II; Allied Campaign Against Rabaul, pp. 45, 79; interrog of Hyakutake, Miyazaki, 
and Maruyama. USAFISPA, Japanese Campaign in the Guadalcanal Area, p. 35, lists 9,100 evacuated. Amer 
Div Int Rpt, Tab B, lists 4,000, and XIV Corps Enemy Opns, pp. 7-8, 3,000. It should be emphasized that the 
figure 13,000 was given by the Japanese after the conclusion of hostilities. 

67 Interrog of Hyakutake, Miyazaki, Maruyama, Sakai, and Obara. 



350 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



was unchanged. American forces, in executing Task One as prescribed by the 
Joint Chiefs of Staff, by taking the first major step toward the eventual reduc- 
tion of Rabaul had decisively defeated the Japanese. 

The cost of victory, though dear, had not been prohibitive. A total of 
about 60,000 Army and Marine Corps ground forces had been deployed on 
Guadalcanal. Of these, about i,6oo were killed by enemy action and 4,245 
wounded. The 1st Marine Division bore the heaviest burden of casualties, 
losing 774 men killed and 1,962 wounded. Three hundred and thirty-four 
of the Americal Division were killed, and 850 wounded. The 2d Marine Divi- 
sion suffered equally with the Americal, losing 268 killed and 932 wounded. 
The 25th Division, which was in action a shorter length of time than the 
others, suffered correspondingly fewer casualties — 216 killed and 439 wounded. 68 

The Japanese suffered much more heavily. More than 36,000 Japanese from 
the ijth Army and the Special Naval Landing Forces fought on Guadalcanal. 
Of these, over 14,800 were killed or missing, and 9,000 died of disease. 69 About 
1,000 were taken prisoner. 70 

In other respects the Japanese were to feel the cost of defeat much more 
heavily than in manpower. Their ship losses had been heavy, and the loss of 
over 600 aircraft with their pilots was to hinder future operations. 71 The Allies 
had won a well-situated base from which to continue the offensive against 
Rabaul The Allied offensive into the Solomons had halted the Japanese ad- 
vance toward the U.S.-Australian line of communications, and also had taken 
the initiative away from the hitherto victorious Japanese. 72 

68 Amer Div Casualty Rpt, 25 Jun 43, in Mist Data; 25th Div Opns, p. 162. Marine figures were fur- 
nished by the Hist Sec, Hq, USMC. Battle Casualties of the Army (prepared by Strength Accounting Br, 
AGO, WDGS, 1 Jul 46), is inaccurate. The figures listed in the text are the best available, but are subject to 
future correction, as are all casualty figures in this book. 

08 Interrog of Ilyakutake, Miyazaki, Maruyama: 1st Demob Bureau's Table I. Deaths from battle and 
disease in the 17th Army, according to iyth Army Opns, II, totaled 21,600. American intelligence reports 
prepared at the conclusion of the campaign have proved to be fairly accurate. USAFISPA's Japanese Campaign 
in the Guadalcanal Area estimated that 43,726 Japanese were dispatched to Guadalcanal, 4,346 were lost at 
sea, and 37,680 fought on Guadalcanal, suffering 28,580 casualties. Americal Division Intelligence Report, 
always conservative, estimated that 32,000 Japanese landed or attempted to land on Guadalcanal, losing 
24>330- 

70 Amer Div Int Rpt, Tab B. 

71 Guadalcanal and the Thirteenth Air Force, p. 270; USSBS, Interrogations, passim. 

72 Miyazaki, Personal Account, p. 36; USSBS, Interrogations, II, 353, 423. 



EPILOGUE 

Occupation of the Russells 

Prior to the final advances on Guadalcanal, the Allied command in the 
South Pacific had been considering additional measures to counter the Japanese 
infiltration down the Solomons. The Americans wished to attack New Georgia 
but in January 1943 lacked the forces for so large an undertaking. The occupa- 
tion of the Russell Islands, a small group lying about 35 miles northwest of 
Cape Esperance and about 125 miles southeast of the New Georgia group, 
seemed feasible. Possession of the Russells would deny them to the Japanese, 
who had been using the islands as a staging area for shipping troops to Guadal- 
canal. In addition, airfields could be built in the Russells which would shorten 
the airline distance from Henderson Field to Munda by about sixty-five miles, 
and motor torpedo boat and landing craft bases could also be established. The 
Russells would not only strengthen the defenses of Guadalcanal but would 
serve as a useful advanced base and staging area to support the invasion of 
New Georgia. 1 

On 29 January Admiral Halsey received permission from Admiral Nimitz 
to proceed with the occupation. 2 Halsey's first plans for the attack called for 
an infiltration from Guadalcanal by one infantry battalion and antiaircraft 
units carried on two destroyer-transports. 3 On 30 January, however, General 
Patch reported that four hundred Japanese were in the Russells. 4 At that time 
the Americans were unaware that the Japanese were evacuating their troops 
from Guadalcanal, so could not know how the enemy would react to the loss 
of the island. South Pacific intelligence estimates in February assumed that 
between 33,000 and 41,000 enemy troops were stationed in the Solomons at 
Buka, Bougainville, the Shortlands, New Georgia, and Rekata Bay at Santa 
Isabel; 157 Japanese aircraft, besides 3 cruisers, 21 destroyers, and 9 submarines 

'Russells Appreciation in Russell Islands Folder, USAFISPA Hist Sec files, in HRS DRB AGO. 

2 SOPAC War Diary, 29 Jan 43. 

3 Rad, COMSOPAC to CG CACTUS, 28 Jan 43, in Russell Islands Folder. 

4 Rad, CG Guadalcanal to COMSOPAC, 01 1 1 of 30 Jan 43, in Russell Islands Folder. 



35 2 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



were supposed to be distributed throughout the area. In addition 15 warships 
and 30 noncombatant craft were estimated to be in the Bismarck waters. 8 
If the Japanese were determined to recapture Guadalcanal, they could be ex- 
pected to react violently to the American occupation of the Russells. The Rus- 
sells occupation force, it was decided, would have to be strong. 6 

Admiral Halsey gave orders for the occupation of the Russells on 7 Feb- 
ruary. He directed that the landing force consist of two infantry regimental 
combat teams, one Marine raider battalion, antiaircraft detachments from a 
Marine defense battalion, and naval base and construction units. Admiral 
Turner was to command the operation. Once the amphibious phase had ended 
and a 60-day level of supply had been established, command of the occupation 
troops would pass to the commanding general of the XIV Corps on Guadal- 
canal, who would then assume responsibility for the supply of the islands* 

South Pacific land-based aircraft under Admiral Fitch would support 
Operation CLEANSLATE (the code name assigned) by covering the move- 
ment of the troops to the Russells and the landings there, and by executing 
long-range search and bombardment missions. South Pacific naval forces would 
also support and cover the invasion. 

The CLEANSLATE Amphibious Force, under Turner, had no large 
warships, transports, or cargo ships. It consisted of four destroyers, four de- 
stroyer-transports, five high-speed minesweepers, twelve tank landing craft, 
a number of smaller landing craft, a i,ooo-ton barge, and the Russells Occupa- 
tion Force. The transports would be protected by eight motor torpedo boats, 
an integral part of the Amphibious Force, as well as by the South Pacific air 
and naval forces. 

The Russells Occupation Force, commanded by Maj. Gen. John H. Hester 
(Commanding General, 43d Division), consisted of the 43d Division, less the 
i72d Regimental Combat Team which was then at Espiritu Santo. As Opera- 
tion CLEANSLATE was to be mounted from Guadalcanal, seven ships moved 
the 103d and 169th Regimental Combat teams and thirty days' supply, five 
units of fire, and 40 percent of the division's vehicles from Noumea to Koli 
Point. Four thousand men of the first echelon landed at Koli Point from three 

8 CTF 61, Opn Plan No. A4-43, FE 25/^16-3(1), Scr 00113, Opn CLEANSLATE, 15 Feb 43, in 43d 
Div, Rpt Russells Opn, in HRS DRB AGO. Unless otherwise indicated this chapter is based upon the 43d Divi- 
sion Report which, however, contains some errors. 

6 Ltr, COMGENSOPAC to Pac Gp, OPD, WDGS, 1 May 43, sub: Summary Occupation Russells. OPD 
381 PTO Sec. Ill (4-17-43). 



EPILOGUE: OCCUPATION OF THE RUSSELLS 



353 




ships between 0900 and 1700 on 16 February. The second echelon, 4,500 men 
aboard four ships, was unsuccessfully attacked by Japanese bombers about 100 
miles southeast of Guadalcanal on 17 February. It suffered no damage, and 
debarked at Koli Point the next day. The two combat teams thereupon sorted 
their supplies in preparation for loading the destroyers, minesweepers, de- 
stroyer-transports, and landing craft. 

While the combat teams were moving to Guadalcanal, officers of the 43d 
Division and Navy and Marine officers reconnoitered the Russells to determine 
whether the Japanese were there and to select landing beaches and sites for 
airfields and torpedo boat bases. They sailed from Guadalcanal on the New 
Zealand corvette Moa and went ashore in a landing boat at Renard Sound at 
Banika, the easternmost main island, after dark on 17 February. {Map 15) 
Natives assured them that the Japanese had evacuated. The next day the patrol 



354 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



examined the area around Paddy Bay at Pavuvu, the largest island, and returned 
to Guadalcanal on the night of 18-19 February. 

The 43d Division, which was to use two small echelons in the initial land- 
ings, continued its preparations at Koli Point. The first echelon consisted of 
division headquarters, the 1st and 2d Battalion teams of the 103d Regimental 
Combat Team, the 43d Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, the 3d (Marine) 
Raider Battalion, a detachment of the nth (Marine) Defense Battalion, and 
the 43d Signal Company. It assembled on the beach on 19 and 20 February. 
At 0530 on 20 February loading of the LCT's was begun, and by 1600, when 
the landing craft, destroyers, mine sweepers, and destroyer-transports were 
loaded with troops, supplies, weapons, and ammunition, the Amphibious Force 
was ready to sail. 

CLEANSLATE was more a shore-to-shore than a ship-to-shore operation. 
The destroyers, mine sweepers, and destroyer-transports were loaded with men 
and materiel, but they also towed fully loaded landing craft. Ten of the ships 
towed one LCM (landing craft, mechanized), two LCP's (landing craft, per- 
sonnel) and one LCV (landing craft, vehicle) each; two ships towed two LCV's 
and two LCP's each, and one ship towed one LCV and one LCP. A tug towed 
the barge, and the LCT's proceeded under their own power. The movement to 
the Russells was uneventful. 

Early in the morning of 21 February, about ten miles east of the Russells, 
the Amphibious Force divided into three groups, each of which proceeded to 
a separate beach to land the troops in accordance with tactical plans previously 
prepared by Admiral Turner and General Hester. Plans for a preliminary 
bombardment by the destroyers, mine sweepers, and destroyer-transports had 
been prepared, but the absence of the Japanese made naval gunfire unnecessary. 

By 0530 all landing craft had cast their tows loose and were closing in 
toward the assigned beaches, and at 0600 the assault waves went ashore un- 
opposed. The plans were executed in accordance with the original schedules 
without hindrance from the Japanese. Headquarters and the 1st Battalion Team 
of the 103d Regimental Combat Team, the 43d Signal Company, the nth 
Defense Battalion detachment, and 43d Division headquarters landed at 
Yellow Beach at Wernham Cove at the southern end of Banika. The 2d Bat- 
talion Team of the 103d and the 43d Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop landed 
on Blue Beach on the north and south coasts of Renard Sound on Banika. 
The 3d Raider Battalion landed from the destroyer-transports at Red Beach 
and Paddy Bay at Pavuvu. Patrols immediately pushed inland, but found no 



EPILOGUE: OCCUPATION OF THE RUSSELLS 



355 



Japanese. The engineers patrolled to find drinking water, a more pressing 
problem than the enemy. By 1800 all elements of the landing force could com- 
municate by telephone; wire crews had put a telephone line across Sunlight 
Channel to connect Banika with Pavuvu. By 1900 the troops had dug them- 
selves into defense positions, and outposts and observation posts had been 
established. 

Logistical operations at the beaches were progressing in a satisfactory man- 
ner. The invasion had been effected under radio silence; the enemy air and 
naval forces had not interfered, and the unloading had not been interrupted. 
The commanders had emphasized the necessity for unloading rapidly and 
moving the supplies inland to keep the beaches clear. About one-third of the 
landing force had been assigned to unload the ships and landing craft. Ship 
unloading details numbered eighty men per reinforced battalion; forty-five 
men were assigned to each LCT. The beach parties, besides naval elements, 
consisted of 200 soldiers or marines per reinforced battalion. By 1000 all craft 
except the barge had been unloaded and fifteen days* supply of B rations, ten 
days' supply of C rations, five days* of D rations, five units of fire, and thirty 
days' supply of gasoline had been landed. The ships and landing craft with- 
drew to Guadalcanal to embark the second echelon. 

The destroyers, mine sweepers, destroyer-transports, and landing craft 
returned the next morning (22 February) to land the 169th Regimental Combat 
Team at Paddy Bay and Beach Yellow. Throughout the rest of February LCT's 
transported the remainder of the 43d Division (less the I72d Regimental 
Combat Team) from Koli Point to the Russells. By the end of the month a 
force of 9,000 men had landed in the islands. By 16 March 15,669 troops of all 
services had reached the Russells. Beach and antiaircraft defenses, including 
long-range and fire-control radar, 155-mm. guns, 90-mm., 40-mm., and other 
antiaircraft guns had been established. The Japanese never attacked the Rus- 
sells by sea, although they launched frequent air raids. 

The first evidence that the Japanese were aware of the occupation was an 
air raid on 6 March. As the Russells had been under radio silence, radars had 
not alerted the islands, but the damage from the raid was slight. Thereafter 
the Japanese continued to bomb the Russells by day and night, but the radars 
alerted the troops in time, and fighters from Guadalcanal usually drove the 
enemy off until the airfields in the Russells were completed. 

By 16 April supplies had reached the prescribed levels — sixty days of most 
types, ten units of fire for field and seacoast artillery, and fifteen units for anti- 



356 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



aircraft artillery — and the command of the Russells passed from Admiral 
Turner to the commanding general of the XIV Corps. 

Construction of roads, airfields, and boat bases had begun in February, 
and by 15 April the first of the two airfields on Banika was ready for operation. 
Surfaced with rolled coral, it was then 2,300 yards long and 100 yards wide. 
The torpedo boat base at Wernham Cove had gone into operation on 25 
February and by 15 February three landing craft bases were operating. The 
Allied base in the Russells was ready to support further advances northward. 



Appendix A 

Letter from General Harmon to 
Admiral Ghormley, 6 October 1942* 



HEADQUARTERS USAFISPA 
(Forward Echelon) 

Noumea, New Caledonia 
6 October 1942 

SUBJECT: Occupation of Ndini. [Ndeni] 
TO : Comsopac. 

1. From a military viewpoint the occupation of Ndini at this time under the existing 
strategic situation has not appealed to me as a measure best utilizing the capabilities of our 
forces. 

I regret that I have not previously more completely expressed myself on this subject. 
While fully prepared to support to the utmost your final decision it does not appear that it is 
even now too late to review the plan, as action for its accomplishment has but just been 
initiated. 

Attention is therefore invited to the following considerations: 

a. It is understood that the primary reasons for the occupation of Ndini are: 

(1) To provide a base for airplane operation for: Anti-submarine patrol; ex- 
tension of patrols to the North and Northeast and protection of east flank 
of Line of Communication to the Solomons. 

(2) To deny it to the enemy. 

(3) To afford an intermediate field between Button [Espiritu Santo] and 
Cactus [Guadalcanal] for staging short range aircraft. 

Reference a, (1) These are all admittedly important reasons in favor of this 
line of action but cannot afford our forces any benefit or influence enemy 
action for at least two and probably three months. In the final analysis they 
are not individually or cumulatively vital to the success of main offensive 
operation or accomplishment of primary mission of maintaining security 
of South Pacific bases and lines of communication. 

Reference a. (2) It is not probable that the enemy will develop Ndini or occupy 
it in force as long as we are able to conduct intensive bomber operations 
from Button. 



* This letter, when written, was classified "Secret;' 



GUADALCANAL : THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Reference a. (3) While desirable this is not a necessity as practically all air- 
craft can make the flight Button-Cactus direct. 

(1) The occupation of Ndini at this time represents a diversion from the main 
effort and dispersion of force. The situation in Cactus-Ringbolt cannot be 
regarded as anything but ' continuingly critical. " Infiltration continues and 
recent additions probably give the enemy a force ashore in the neighbor- 
hood of 3,500. Pack or other mobile artillery in the hands of this force if 
skillfully employed could develop into a serious danger. With or without 
augmentation by infiltration, this force could well tip the scales in favor 
of an enemy victory if skillfully used against our Southern and Western 
front in conjunction with a determined night attack from the seaward ap- 
proaches. There is no effective defense against his support of such an attack 
by fire from warships. 

If we do not succeed in holding Cactus-Ringbolt our effort in the Santa Cruz 
will be a total waste — and loss. The Solomons has to be our main effort. 
The loss of Cactus-Ringbolt would be a four way victory for the Jap- 
provide a vanguard for his strong Bismarck position, deny us a jumping 
off place against that position, give him a jumping off place against the 
New Hebrides, effectively cover his operations against New Guinea. 

It is my personal conviction that the Jap is capable of retaking Cactus-Ringbolt 
and that he will do so in the near future unless it is materially strengthened. 
I further believe that appropriate increase in strength of garrison, rapid 
improvement of conditions for air operation and increased surface action, 
if accomplished in time, will make the operation so costly that he will not 
attempt it. 

(2) The airdrome (including both fields) cannot be considered suitable for 
continuous operation. The durability of the mat, considering the character 
of the surface on which it is laid, for continuous operation of heavy ships is 
open to doubt. The mat is not completed on the runway, and there are no 
taxiways or standings. With any considerable degree of rain, air operations 
under present conditions will Dractically cease. The Jap has not shown him- 
self unskillful at forecasting meteorological conditions nor slow in taking 
advantage of them. 

(3) There may be some plan behind his recent method of Fighter-Bomber ap- 
proach. Is there perhaps the idea that on the right day, at the appropriate 
time, after having exhausted our Fighters and apparently withdrawn his 
Bombers, he will return with them and strike heavily? Dispersion at Cactus 
is poor. Of concealment and protection there is relatively none. We do not 
have sufficient Fighters or facilities to operate them in two echelons of suffi- 
cient strength. Such an attack, well executed, would be a stunning blow, 

(4) The availability of a suitable runway and adequate facilities to permit the 
full effective operation of B-17 squadron would go far toward the security 



APPENDIX A 



359 



of our position by extending the range of daylight reconnaissance and by 
providing a ready striking force to be used against appropriate objectives as 
far northwest as Buka. 

2. It is recommended that any reconsideration of plans take cognizance of the following 
proposed lines of action. 

a. The abandonment of the Ndini operation until such time as a condition of rea- 
sonable stability and security is achieved in the Southern Solomons. 

b. The immediate re-enforcement of Cactus by not less than the equivalent of one 
Infantry Regimental Combat Team. 

c. The intensification, as means and conditions permit, of naval surface action in 
South Solomon waters. 

d. The prompt dispatch to Cactus of all the airdrome construction personnel, equip- 
ment and construction supplies that can be effectively employed and used; with the initial 
mission of: 

( 1 ) Completing one all-weather runway with taxiways and dispersed standings. 

(2) Completing a second all-weather runway with taxiways and dispersed 
standings. 

(3) Improvement of fueling system, dispersal, camouflage and protection of 
aircraft. 

e. Material augmentation of fuel supply to a minimum level of 250,000 gallons. 

/. Conduct of intensive air operations from Cactus against Buin-Tonolei-Faisi and 

Buka. 

g. Continuation of intensive short range air operations against air, land and sea 
objectives. 

h. Occupation of tactical localities in the New Georgia group by infiltration. 

3. Appreciating that I have not exhausted this subject and that you may have important 
considerations in mind that are not covered herein, I nevertheless feel obligated to present 
these views to you. 

M. F. HARMON 
Major General, U.S.A. 
Commanding 



Appendix B 

General Patch's Letter of 
Instructions to General Collins, 
5 January 1943 1 

HEADQUARTERS XIV CORPS 

A.P.O. #709 
5 Jan. 43 

SUBJECT: Letter of. Instructions 

TO : Commanding General, 25th Infantry Division, 

MAP : Aerial Photomosaic, GUADALCANAL ISLAND, "3 of 8", 1:13,833. 

1. a. See G-2 Estimate. 

b. See Operations Overlay. 

2. The 25th Infantry Division will relieve the 132c! Infantry on MOUNT OESTON 
(AUSTEN) without delay, and, upon completion of this relief, will attack from that area and 
seize and hold the line approximately 3,000 yards to the west thereof. See Operations Overlay. 

3. a. The I32d Infantry will pass to the control of the Commanding General, Perimeter 
Defense, when relieved by the 25th Infantry Division. The Commanding General, 25th 
Infantry Division, will notify the Commanding General, Perimeter Defense, when this relief 
has been effected. 

b. The 35th Infantry will become available to the Commanding General, 25th In- 
fantry Division, upon relief from the Perimeter Defense. 

c. The 25th Infantry Division will execute a passage of lines through the 3d Bat- 
talion i82d Infantry, the 1st Battalion 2d Marines, and the Reconnaissance Squadron Americal 
Division, and these units will be placed under the command of the Commanding General, 
25th Infantry Division, when he indicates that he is ready to operate in the area now held by 
these units. The 3d Battalion i82d Infantry and the Reconnaissance Squadron Americal 
Division will revert to the command of the Commanding General, Perimeter Defense, and 
the 1 st Battalion 2d Marines will revert to the command of the Commanding General, 2d 
Marine Division, when passing [passed] through by the 25th Infantry Division and released 
by the Commanding General thereof, 

d. The 25th Infantry Division will be responsible for the security of its left (south) 

flank. 

1 This letter, when written, was classified "Secret/' The distribution list has been omitted. 



APPENDIX B 



361 



e . The 2d Marine Division will maintain contact with the right (north) flank of the 
25th Infantry Division. 

/. The Commanding General, 25th Infantry Division, is authorized to deal directly 
with the Commanding General, 2d Marine Air Wing, in regard to air-ground support. 

g. Artillery employment: 

(1) The Americal Division Artillery with Battery A 1st Amphibious Corps 
(155-mm How.), and Battery F 244th Coast Artillery (155-mm Gun), 
attached, generally from present positions, will continue to support the 2d 
Marine Division in its present position, but will be prepared to reinforce 
the 25th Infantry Division Artillery with fire in support of the advance of 
the 25th Infantry Division. 

(2) The 2d Battalion 10th Marines (75-mm How.) from present positions will 
fire in support of the advance of the 25th Infantry Division; its fires will be 
controlled by the 25th Infantry Division. 

(3) Battery H 244th Coast Artillery (5-inch Gun) will continue on present sea- 
coast defense missions. 

(4) The 1 st and 3d Battalions 10th Marines (75-mm How.) will revert to con- 
trol of the Commanding General, Perimeter Defense, when replaced by 
the 2d Battalion 10th Marines (75-mm How.) and the 90th Field Artillery 
Battalion ( 155-mm How.), respectively. 

4. a. Distributing Point, Class I and Class III ONLY: (71. 5-200.0). a 

b. Distribution Point, all other supplies: ISLAND DUMP. 3 

c. Evacuation to Division Hospital, 25th Infantry Division; overflow to 101st Med- 
ical Regiment. 

d. Road Maintenance: 

(1) The 57th Engineer Battalion Americal Division will be attached to the 2d 
Marine Division for road maintenance. 

(2) Maintenance of roads will be by divisions in own zones of action. 

(3) Maintenance by the 25th Infantry Division will include the entire 
WRIGHT ROAD. 

(4) In the zone of the 2d Marine Division, first priority will be given to the 
SKYLINE DRIVE. 4 

(5) The BEACH ROAD west to include the NORTH MATANIKAU 
BRIDGE will be maintained by the 26th Naval Construction Battalion. 

5. a. SOI, Hq Island Command, 26 Dec 42. 

b. Command Post: to be reported when determined. 

A. M. PATCH, 

Major General, U.S. Army, 

Commanding. 

a The distributing point lay by the coast road on the west bank of the Matanikau. 

* The Island Dump lay near the Ilu. 

* Skyline Drive was the trail which led from the beach over Hills 75, 74, and 72 to Hill 66. 



Appendix C 

XIV Corps' Field Order No. 1, 

16 January 1943 

HQ XIV CORPS, 
APO #709 
1200 16 Jan 43. 

FO No. i. 

MAP: Gridded 8-sheet photomap, 1:15,000. 

1. a. See current Summary. 
b. See Operations Overlay. 

2. This Corps, from present positions, will attack to the west at a time and on a date to 
be announced later, seize the high ground in the vicinity of (68.o-2oi.8)-(67~2oo)-( 65-198) 
to the south thereof, and be prepared to continue the attack to the northwest. 1 See Operations 
Overlay. 

3. a. 2d Marine Division (less 2d and 8th Marine Regiments), one (1) Infantry regi- 
ment Americal Division attached, will attack to the west and seize that part of the Corps 
objective within its zone of action. It will maintain connection and contact with the 25th 
Infantry Division during the attack, will cover its left (south) flank, and will assist the 25th 
Infantry Division by fire in taking the high ground in the vicinity of (66.0-198.5).* It will 
protect the shore line from the MATANIKAU RIVER (excl) to the objective (incl) against 
any attempted enemy landing. 

b. 25th Infantry Division will attack to the west and seize that part of the Corps 
objective within its zone of action. It will envelop or turn the enemy's right (south) flank and 
will protect the left (south) flank of the Corps. 

c. The Perimeter Defense (less one (1) Infantry regiment Americal Division), 
with 2d and 8th Marine Regiments attached, will intensify patrolling to insure protection of 
air fields and rear installations of the Corps. It will extend beach protection to insure against 
possible enemy landings as far west as the MATANIKAU RIVER (incl). One (1) Infantry 
regiment will be kept immediately available for use by the Corps Commander in support of 
the attack or in defense of rear areas; it will be committed to action only on orders of the 

1 The objective line ran from Hill 87 northeast to the beach. 
a Hill 87. 



APPENDIX C 



363 



Corps Commander. A second regiment of Infantry will be so utilized that it can be assembled 
in two and one half (2/2 ) hours for use by the Corps Commander. 

d. 147th Infantry (-) will prepare to cover KOLI POINT AIR FIELD with two 
(2) rifle companies reinforced. The remainder of the 147th Infantry at KOLI POINT will 
await orders there in Corps reserve and will be committed to action only on orders of the 
Corps Commander. 

e. Artillery. 

(1) Americal Division Artillery, with 10th Marines (less two (2) battalions) 
(75-mm. Pack How), Battery A 1st Marine Amphibious Corps (155-mm 
How), and Battery F 244th Coast Artillery (155-mm Gun) attached, will 
support the attack of the 2d Marine Division. It will be prepared to rein- 
force the fires in the zone of action of the 25th Infantry Division with two 
(2) battalions of light artillery and one (1) battalion of medium artillery. 

(2) Two (2) battalions 10th Marines (75-mm How) will remain on Perimeter 
Defense. 

(3) 25th Infantry Division Artillery will be prepared to reinforce the fires in 
the zone of action of the 2nd Marine Division with two (2) battalions of 
light artillery and one (1) battalion of medium artillery. 

(4) A fifteen (15) minute artillery, sea, and air preparation will precede the 
attack. Thereafter, artillery, without instructions from other headquarters, 
will promptly take under fire targets of opportunity. 

/. 2d Marine Air Wing will support the attack and will engage targets of oppor- 
tunity as indicated by organic air surveillance and this headquarters, paying particular atten- 
tion to enemy artillery and concentrations of enemy troops. Requests for air-ground support 
missions will be transmitted to the AC of S, G-3, this headquarters. 

g. Naval gunfire support, utilizing such naval vessels as are available, will be co- 
ordinated by the Corps Artillery Officer. This support will include an initial preparation of 
(15) minutes, commencing at H-15, in the areas (67.8-201. 8)^(67 .5-201.0) (66.8-200.2) and 
(67. 8-20 1. 8 )-( 66.2-200.0), followed by missions on targets of opportunity as far west as 
Visale Mission as indicated by air surveillance, shore surveillance, and this headquarters. 8 

h. (1) An artillery, sea, and air preparation of fifteen (15) minutes will precede 

the attack. Thereafter, these units will fire on targets of opportunity. 

(2) Isolated points of enemy resistance will be contained and by-passed; they 
will be reduced later. Maximum use will be made of artillery and air sup- 
port in effecting reductions. 

(3) All Infantry units will keep their supporting artillery and the AC of S, G~3, 
this headquarters, advised of their locations at all times in order that targets 
of opportunity may be fired upon promptly. 

4. a. Rations, gasoline, oil, and ammunition will be drawn directly from the ISLAND 
DUMP as long as practicable, thereafter from ADVANCE DUMP in the vicinity of (71.7- 

3 The coordinates refer to points on the beach about 3,200 yards west of Point Cruz, to the ravine be- 
tween Hills 93 and 92, and to the west slopes of Hill 92. 



364 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



200.0). The 25th Infantry Division will exhaust the WRIGHT ROAD DUMP prior to draw- 
ing from the ADVANCE DUMP. 

b. Evacuation will be by divisions to Division Collecting Stations, thence by Corps 
to Clearing Hospitals. 

c. Burial will be by the Quartermaster in ISLAND CEMETERY. 

d. Prisoners of War will be sent to the rear by Divisions to Division Collecting 
Points, thence by Corps to ISLAND STOCKADE. 

e. Main Supply Road: BEACH ROAD. Priority of use: combat troops, evacuation, 

supply. 

/. Traffic Control : Divisions will maintain Military Police control of traffic as follows: 
2d Marine Division : BEACH ROAD west of the command post 2d Marine Division 

(incl), and the MARINE TRAIL/ 
25th Infantry Division: BEACH ROAD east of the command post 2d Marine Division (excl) 

to the perimeter, WRIGHT ROAD, and RUST TRAIL. 
Americal Division: All hard-surfaced roads within the Perimeter. 

5. a. Signal Operations Instructions, Hq Island Command, 26 Dec 42. 

b. Command Posts: to be reported to this headquarters when determined. 

c. Strict radio discipline and cryptographic security will be maintained at all times 
by all units. 

PATCH 

RIDINGS 
G-3 



* Marine Trail ran from the coast road southward along the cast bank of the Matanikau to Hill 67. 
5 Rust Trail ran from Marine Trail eastward over Hills 67 and 69. 



Appendix D 

A Japanese Analysis of American 
Combat Methods on Guadalcanal 1 

/. Offense 

1. Preceding an attack by the American Army, there is always artillery 
bombardment for at least 12 hours. When this is begun at dawn or on the previous 
night, there are frequently an attack and an advance in the afternoon. At this 
time, we invariably open up a persistent checking fire 

2. Attack formation: . . . They are quite brave, and use mainly automatic 
rifles. On rare occasions they send out ahead patrols of 2 or 3 men. 

3. Outline of Infantry Attack: When they come 300 or 400 meters in front 
of the fortified positions, first of all, they always stop, construct fortified positions, 
and about 100-200 meters to their rear flank they put up tents (the tents, for the 
most part, are for one section each, and are not large). Moreover, in front of these 

positions they station pickets. While reconnoitering they push forward their 

[battalion howitzers], they continue their bombing, and concentrating their 

trench mortars on a certain sector, they advance and attack When they reach 

100 or 150 meters in front of the position, they stop to bombard. They press on 
while sweeping with fire with their grenade rifles, light [machine] guns and 
automatic rifles. (In the last phase of combat they use flamethrowers and molotov 
cocktails). So long as even one of our men remains in a position and resists, they 

1 This document, which was captured by Allied forces in New Guinea, was reproduced by ATIS, SWPA, 
on 21 November 1943 as Enemy Pub No. 56. It is a translation of a io-page, mimeographed booklet written 
by a Japanese divisional staff officer and originally distributed to the Japanese in the South and Southwest 
Pacific Areas on 4 March 1943. The ATIS translation employs several American colloquialisms. After the war 
a search for the original Japanese booklet was made, that the colloquialisms might be removed, but the book- 
let could not be found. In this appendix, English words are substituted for the Japanese map symbols which 
are occasionally used by ATIS. Three sketches in the ATIS publication, showing American attack formations, 
methods of penetration, and organization of defensive positions, employ Japanese map symbols and have been 
omitted here. The Japanese and Allied distribution lists have also been omitted. Some changes have been 
made in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Col. Sidney F. Mashbir, Co-ordinator of ATIS during the war, 
checked the appendix and concurred in this version. Except for the alterations noted above, the text of the 
ATIS publication is reproduced almost in full, without change. 



366 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



do not break through. Even though they realize that the position is completely 
demolished, they concentrate their trench mortars and then penetrate, yelling 
loudly. 

4. Penetration; , . . If a strong reconnaissance force discovers an opening, 
after repeated bombardment they occupy it about evening. They build fortified 
positions until dawn, later adding to them and increasing the number of men. 
After that, they extend their penetration further to the front and flanks. Conse- 
quently, in Guadalcanal they never attempted to break through the depth of our 
position at one blow. 

They penetrate little by little, most cautiously, but very steadily. They ad- 
vance while successively destroying every fortified position. 

5. Attack according to schedule: American troops conduct their attacks ac- 
cording to a planned table. Consequently, as a general rule, there is no such thing 
as taking advantage of an opportunity. Once they have executed an order which 
they were given at the outset, they seem to stop. 

When their attack fails, they revise their plans on a larger scale. However, 
the signal unit follows up [establishes and maintains communication] with un- 
expected speed. 

6. Night attack: Although they fire, infantry forces do not engage in night 
attacks. 

77. Defense 

1. Organization of an enemy position: It is a zone position without strong 
points which has as its nucleus special fire points and heavy fire arms, . . * The 
same class of troops is generally disposed in all sectors. The * . . [battalion how- 
itzers] (they must be above medium) and the . . . [artillery] are moved by . . . 
[truck] according to the situation. . . . 

2. Enemy close range defensive battle depends on . . . [machine guns and 
battalion howitzers]. As soon as they perceive (by their microphones, etc. 2 ) that 
we are approaching, they repeatedly carry out a concentrated searching fire of 20 
guns in the already prepared zone of fire. 

If one breaks this zone or rushes through the pockets, it becomes unexpect- 
edly easy. But breaking through the zone of fire by force, whether by day or 
night, requires a considerable degree of neutralization and tremendous spirit. One 

2 The Japanese apparently believed chat American troops employed electric devices, such as microphones, 
at observation posts to warn them against approaching enemy infantrymen. A similar idea was expressed by 
Colonel Furumiya (CO, 29th /«/), who was killed in October 1942. He suggested that the Americans were 
perhaps using machine guns which were operated by remote control, thus eliminating the need for a crew to 
man the gun. See extracts from his diary in 1st Mar Div Rpt, V, Annex I. 



APPENDIX D 



3 6 7 



should not employ mass formations. The enemy is not clever in a certain sense, 
for when his positions are penetrated by one of our units he becomes panic- 
stricken. We should take full advantage of this and should lose no opportunity 
to penetrate his positions and drive him out of them, 

3. Enemy fire is only on prepared points (sectors) and it is almost random 
fire. In the evening it is especially intense. For that reason we thoroughly recon- 
noiter the zones which they have prepared, and avoid them. At the same time, 
there is great value in drawing out enemy fire by a show of force and making 
the enemy expend recklessly. Moreover, a "feint" . . . attack by a small force is an 
effective method of attack against this type of enemy. 
///. Camp Duties 

The functioning of an American camp is extremely crude and imperfect. 
Although the American Army engages unexpectedly in 5th column activities, the 
functioning of its outposts is bad. Their security measures have many loop-holes 
and their night reconnaissance in particular is almost non-existent. There are 
sentry guards only in the daytime. At night they place pickets (between 15 and 20 
men) very sparsely at important points so that infiltration by patrols and small 
forces is comparatively easy. In these openings, instead of sentry guards, they 
frequently place microphones. The division has never been able to discover these, 
but the wires have been noticed. Also direct security of positions is generally bad 
and extremely careless. 
IV. Other Items. 

1. American rear and flank susceptibility: The American Army is not sus- 
ceptible on the flanks and rear. The American positions on Guadalcanal were 
probably all-out defense positions, and there were none with unprepared rear 
and flanks. Because of the deployment of their troop strength, which is thought 
to be sufficient . . ., they very seldom experience any hurt. As is clear from our own 
attack and a summary of the enemy's attack, the enemy never experiences any 
great anxiety over his deployment. This is indeed unfortunate. It seems the enemy 
will never experience any real suffering unless dealt a crushing blow. Therefore, 
rather than seeking excellence of deployment against the American Army, if we 
concentrate our entire strength on desirable points whether in the rear of flank, or 
in front, the enemy will come to be considered comparatively weak. 

2. Susceptibility to fire power: The American Army has a weak point in its 
great susceptibility to artillery and bombing attacks. Several effective rounds alone 
always rout an attack force of 300-400 or 500-600 in a moment, stemming the 
attack. For that reason, subjugation by shelling is easy, no matter what the type 



368 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



of enemy troops. However, the American Air Force takes off from runways 
during bombardments and frequently maneuvers bravely against rifles, machine 
guns, etc. 

3. Use of machine power and material power: They are skillful in the use of 
abundant material power and machine power. Even though they are the work of 
the enemy, newly established automobile roads, the strengthening of positions, 
speedy construction of . . . [airfields], the setting up of a network of communi- 
cations, etc., are beautiful things. It demands all the more attention to force them 
out. 

4. Stress laid upon areas in the rear. In the American Army the stress laid 
upon rear areas is quite considerable, and the Japanese Forces (including the 
Navy) cannot compare with them. Not only do they form strong points in their 
rear, but they make persistent and utmost efforts to cut off our rear. This is to say, 
the enemy is constantly attacking our transport ships rather than our warships. 
In Guadalcanal they carried this out to an excessive degree, with untiring efforts. 
Consequently, if we can cut off the enemy's rear areas to half the extent that they 
do ours, their suffering will be beyond imagination. 

5. Progressiveness of American combat methods: The American Army is 
constantly endeavoring to devise new strategy. In a delaying action of 70 days the 
American Army used a "non-tactical" attack and defense, but gradually became 
enlightened thanks to the Japanese Army. Their methods of attack improved, and 
they finally developed sound methods. Moreover, with the troop deployment 
which they have decided upon, they are carrying out attacks which have com- 
pletely changed their first reputation. Therefore it should be said that it is a big 
mistake generally to disregard the general characteristics of the American Army 
and to consider their strategy as a fixed thing. 

6. The American Army is slow and steady, and does not place all its stakes 
on one big engagement. Individually or in small forces, they have often taken 
risks as in sports. As a whole group, however, they are extremely cautious and 
steady, advancing step by step. If they are not absolutely confident of their posi- 
tions and strength, they do not attack. Therefore, in accordance with this situa- 
tion, it is judged that vigorous operations and daring maneuvers will not be 
carried out for the present by large forces. One reason for this probably is that their 
officers of middle rank and below possess little tactical ability. Furthermore, if 
the enemy once gains self-confidence he becomes overly bold, but if any one op- 
poses him he becomes radically less agressive at once. This is seen to be the usual 
attitude of foreigners 



Appendix E 

U.S. Army Battle Participation List 
for Guadalcanal 



The following list of Army and Air Force units are those that participated 
in the Guadalcanal Campaign as defined by General Order Number 24, 4 March 
1947. Units are listed as they were designated during the campaign, with later 
changes and redesignations shown in parentheses following. General Order Num- 
ber 12, 1 February 1946, lists the units entitled to battle credit for the Guadal- 
canal Campaign as they appear in parentheses. Differences between the listing 
below and General Order Number 12 are a result of later research. 



XIV 

XIV Corps Headquarters 

Service Command, Guadalcanal 

Coast Artillery 

2 1 4th C A Regt ( redesignated 2 1 4th 
AAA GP, Hq & Hq Btry; 250th 
AAA Searchlight Bn; 528th AAA 
Gun Bn; 950th AAA Bn, Automatic 
Weapons) 
Btry F, 244th CA Regt and Provisional 
Btry H, 244th CA Regt (redesig- 
nated 259th CA Bn, Harbor De- 
fense, Separate) 

Field Artillery 

97th FA Bn (75-mm Howitzer Pack) 

Chemical 

151st Chem Co, Decontamination (in- 
activated and personnel assigned to 
21 8th Chem Composite Co, Depot 
Section) 

887th Chem Co, Air Operations 



Corps 

Engineer 

472d Engr Maintenance Co, 
Contact Plat 
Infantry 

147th Inf Regt, less Cannon Co 
Medical 

1 st Section, 7th Medical Supply Depot 
(Personnel and Equipment trans- 
ferred to 1 st Section, Advance Depot 
Plat, 21st Medical Supply Depot) 

17th Field Hospital 

52d Field Hosp, 2d and 3d 
Units and Hqs 

20th Station Hospital 
Ordnance 

22d Ord Medium Maintenance Co 

51st Ord Medium Maintenance Co 

Co A, 82d Ord Bn (redesignated 3465th 
Ord Auto Maintenance Co, Medium) 

482d Ord Co, Aviation, Bomb 



37° 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



XIV Corps — Continued 



Quartermaster 

ist Plat, 45th QM Grave Regis Co (re- 
designated 29th QM Grave Regis 
Det) 

2d Plat, Co C, 60th QM Laundry Bn 
3d Plat, 177th QM Bakery Co (redesig- 
nated 352d QM Plat, Bakery) 



494th QM Depot Co, Supply 
Signal 

ist Sect, Sig Pigeon Co, 5944-A 

69th Sig Co (redesignated 1069th Sig 

Co, Service Gp) 
670th Sig Aircraft Warning Co 
831st Signal Service Co 1 



America! Division 



Special Troops 
Hq & Hq Co 

39th MP Co, less one plat (redesignated 

MP Plat, Americal Div) 
10 ist QM Regt (redesignated 125th QM 

Co) 
26th Signal Co 
Artillery 

Hq & Hq Btry 
Americal Div Artillery Band 
221st FA Bn, 155-mm. Howitzer 
245th FA Bn, 105-mm. Howitzer 
246th FA Bn, 105-mm. Howitzer 



247th FA Bn, 105-mm. Howitzer 
Cavalry 

Mobile Combat Ren Sq (redesignated 
2 1 st Cav Ren Troop, Mcz) 

Engineers 

57th Engineer Combat Bn 

Infantry 

i32d Inf Regt, less Cannon Co 
164th Inf Regt, less Cannon Co 
i82d Inf Regt, less Cannon Co 

Medical 

101st Medical Regt (redesignated 121st 
Med Bn) 



25th Infantry Division 



Special Troops 

Hq & Hq Company 
MP Platoon 
Band 

25th QM Co 
Artillery 

Hq & Hq Btry 

25th Div Arty Band 

8th FA Bn, 105-mm. Howitzer 

64th FA Bn, 105-mm. Howitzer 

89th FA Bn, 105-mm. Howitzer 

90th FA Bn, 155-mm. Howitzer 



Cavalry 

25th Cav Ren Troop, Mcz 
Engineers 

65 th Engineer Combat Bn 
Infantry 

27th Inf Regt 

35th Inf Regt 

i6istlnf Regt 
Medical 

25th Med Bn 
Ordnance 

725th Ord Light Maintenance Co 



1 Does not appear in General Order Number 12, 1 February 1946. 



APPENDIX E 



371 



43 d 

Special Troops 
Hq & Hq Co 
Mp Platoon 
Band 

43d Signal Co 
Artillery 2 

Hq & Hq Btry 

i52d FA Bn, 105-mm. Howitzer 
169th FA Bn, 105-mm. Howitzer 
Cavalry 



l antry Division 

43d Cavalry Ren Troop, Mcz 
Engineers 

1 1 8th Engineer Combat Bn 
Infantry 

103d Inf Regt 

169th Inf Regt 
Medical 

1 1 8th Medical Bn 
Ordnance 

743d Ordnance Co 



Air Corps units 



XIII Bomber Command 

Hq, XIII Bomber Command 

23d Bomb Sq, 5th Bomb Gp, Heavy 

31st Bomb Sq, 5th Bomb Gp, Heavy 

69th Bomb Sq, Medium 

70th Bomb Sq, Medium 

72d Bomb Sq, 5th Bomb Gp, Heavy 

394th Bomb Sq, 5th Bomb Gp, Heavy 
1 1 th Bomb Gp, Heavy, Hqs 

26th Bomb Sq 

42d Bomb Sq 

98th Bomb Sq 

431st Bomb Sq 
XIII Fighter Command 

Hq, XIII Fighter Command 



1 2th Fighter Sq 

13th Troop Carrier Sq 

14th Fighter Sq 
347th Fighter Gp, Hqs 

67th Fighter Sq 

68th Fighter Sq 

70th Fighter Sq 

339th Fighter Sq 
Miscellaneous 

3d Bomb Gp, Light 

4th Photo Ren and Mapping Gp 

17th Photo Sq, Light, 4th Photo Ren & 

Mapping Gp 
29th Service Gp 
82d Service Sq 



2 1926 FA Bn, 43d Inf Division, is given credit for the Guadalcanal Campaign in General Order Num- 
ber 12, 1 February 1946; however, the unit did not leave New Caledonia until 24 February 1943, three days 
after the campaign was over. 



Guide to Footnotes 



There exists no generally accepted practice for citing Army and Navy docu- 
ments. The method adopted in this and other Pacific volumes is designed to 
furnish to the reader necessary information on the source, character, date, subject 
matter, and present location of the documents, and to make each citation as brief 
as possible. The security classifications of the documents have been omitted. 

The citations are for the most part self-explanatory, but a brief exposition may 
assist the reader in finding the entries in the South Pacific War Diary. They are 
listed in the Diary, by month, according to their date-time groups in Greenwich 
Civil Time, and show the originator and the addressee of each message. The first 
two figures in a date-time group give the day of the month; the last four indicate 
the time of day. Thus, in a group of entries for July 1942, a date-time group of 
021226 means that the date of the message was 2 July, and 1226 was the time. 

In general, abbreviations conform to the usages in TM 20-205, ^ e Dictionary 
of United States Army Terms, published in 1944. To assist the civilian reader, 
unfamiliar official and unofficial military and naval abbreviations, short titles, 
and code words which are used in the footnotes are explained below. 



AAA Antiaircraft artillery 

ACofS Assistant Chief of Staff 

Adj Adjutant 

Amph Amphibious 

Arty Artillery 

ASF Army Service Forces 

ATIS Allied Translator and Interpreter Section 

Avn Aviation 

Bn Battalion 

Bn-i, Bn-2, etc. See under G. 

CA Coast Artillery 

CACTUS Guadalcanal 

CINC SWPA Supreme Commander [Commander in Chief ], Southwest 

Pacific Area 

CINCPAC Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet 

CINCPOA Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Area 

CG Commanding General 

CM-IN Cable Message In 

CM-OUT Cable Message Out 



GUIDE TO FOOTNOTES 



373 



CNO 

CO 

CofS 

COMAIRSOPAC 

COMAIRWING I 

COMAMPHIBFORSOPAC 

Comdr 

Comdt 

COMGENSOPAC 

COMINCH 

COMNAVBAS 

COMNAVEU 

COMSERONSOPAC 

COMSOPAC 

COMSOWESPACFOR 

CTF 
CTG 

D-i,D-2, etc. 

ExO 

FA 

FM 

FO 

G 



GHQ 

GO 

Gp 

GSUSA 
HD 

HRS DRB AGO 
Int 



Chief of Naval Operations 
Commanding Officer 
Chief of Staff 

Commander, [land-based] Aircraft, South Pacific Force 
Commanding General, ist Marine Air Wing 
Commander, Amphibious Force, South Pacific Force 
Commander 
Commandant 

Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces in the South 
Pacific Area 

Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet 

Commander, Naval Base[s] 

Commander, U.S. Naval Forces in Europe 

Commander, Service Squadron, South Pacific Force 

Commander, South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force 

Commander, Southwest Pacific Force (the U.S. Naval 

commander under MacArthur) 

Commander, Task Force 

Commander, Task Group 

See under G. 

Executive Officer 

Field Artillery 

Field Manual 

Field Order 

A generic label for the staff sections of large Army units. 
G-i, for example, indicates either the personnel section of 
a headquarters or the assistant chief of staff for personnel; 
G—2, intelligence; G-3, operations; G— 4, supply and evac- 
uation. In units smaller than divisions, the staff sections 
are labeled S-i, S-2, etc. In 1942 Marine units employed 
the same staff organization as the Army, but D indicated 
a divisional staff section, R that of a regiment, and Bn that 
of a battalion. 
General Headquarters 
General Order 
Group 

General Staff, U.S. Army (used after the reorganization 
of the armed forces in 1947) 
Harbor Defense 

Historical Records Section, Departmental Records Branch, 
Administrative Services Division, Office of The Adjutant 
General 
Intelligence 



374 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Interrog 


Interrogation 


JCS 


Joint Chiefs of Staff 


JPS 


Joint Staff Planners 


MAC 


Marine Amphibious Corps 


MIS 


Military Intelligence Service 


Mob 


Mobile 


Msg 


Message 


NR 


Number (relating to a radiogram) 


Ntg 


No time group 


OB 


Order of Battle 


Obs 


Observer 


O-in-C 


Officer in Charge 


ONI 


Office of Naval Intelligence 


OPD 


Operations Division, War Department General Staff (now 




the Plans and Operations Division, General Staff, U.S. 




Army) 


Opn 


Operation 


Ord 


Order 


Org Rec Br, AGO 


Organization Records Branch, Records Administration 




Center, Administrative Services Division, Office of The 




Adjutant General 


Pac 


Pacific 


POA 


Pacific Ocean Area 


PTO 


Pacific Theater of Operations 


Rad 


Radiogram 


Recon 


Reconnaissance 


R-i,R-2, etc. 


See under G. 


RINGBOLT 


Tulagi 


SCAP 


Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers 


SEC NAV 


The Secretary of the Navy 


SGO 


Office of The Surgeon General 


S-ij S-2, etCi 


See under G. 


SOPAC 


South Pacific Area, South Pacific Force 


SOWESPAC 


Southwest Pacific Area 


SSUSA 


Special Staff, U.S. Army 


Stf 


Staff 


SWPA 


Southwest Pacific Area 


TF 


Task Force 


TG 


Task Group 


Trans 


Translation 


USA 


U.S. Army 


USAFISPA 


U.S. Army Forces in the South Pacific Area 


USSBS 


U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey 



GUIDE TO FOOTNOTES 



375 



WD War Department (now the Department of the Army) 

WDCSA Chief of Staff, U.S. Army (prior to the reorganization in 

!947) 

WDGS War Department General Staff (now the General Stafl, 

U.S. Army) 

WIA Wounded in Action 



Bibliographical Note 



Manuscript Histories 

No historians accompanied the Army forces to Guadalcanal to observe 
operations, conduct interviews and critiques, and collect records for the prepara- 
tion of a history of the campaign. As a result the extant manuscript histories, 
which were prepared long after the campaign, are not as detailed as those of 
later campaigns which were covered by historians. The following manuscripts 
are, however, useful. 

Particularly helpful is the History of United States Army Forces in the 
South Pacific Area during World War II, 30 March 1942-1 August 1944. This 
four-part, typewritten work was written under the supervision first of 
Maj. Frederick P. Todd, USAFISPA Historical Section, and later, of Capt. 
Louis Morton, G-2 Historical Section, South Pacific Base Command. Prepared 
by competent historians, this comprehensive administrative and logistical his- 
tory is invaluable for the student of South Pacific operations in general and of 
Army operations in particular. A copy of the history is in the files of the His- 
torical Division, SSUSA. 

Two manuscripts on the Guadalcanal campaign were prepared, beginning 
in 1944, by USAFISPA historians. The first of these, 147 typewritten pages in 
length, covers the entire campaign. It deals with Ghormley's general plans, 
the 1st Marine Division's plans and preparations, and operations on Guadal- 
canal and the Russells from August 1942 to February 1943. The second manu- 
script contains five typewritten chapters, and covers Ghormley's plans, 1st 
Marine Division's plans, and part of the operations on Guadalcanal; other 
chapters covering operations in November 1942, and January and February 
1943, were not completed. These manuscripts were originally prepared for the 
American Forces in Action series. Based on the best sources available to 
USAFISPA historians, they are accurate but not thoroughly documented. The 
USAFISPA Historical Section also prepared a full set of maps relating to the 
campaign. These maps are the best of Guadalcanal available in the Depart- 
ment of the Army, and are much better than the operational maps used by 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 



377 



the combat troops during the campaign. They have been extensively used in 
the preparation of maps for this volume. Both manuscripts and maps are in 
the files of the Historical Division, SSUSA. 

A work based primarily upon Marine Corps records is The Guadalcanal 
Campaign (Historical Section, Hq. U. S. Marine Corps, June 1945), prepared 
by Capt. John L. Zimmerman, USMCR, and circulated within the Marine 
Corps. The Guadalcanal Campaign deals fully with operations of the 1st 
Marine Division up to 9 December 1942. The chapters dealing with operations 
following the 1st Marine Division's relief are less adequate, since 2d Marine 
Division records are sketchy. Now a civilian, Mr. Zimmerman is preparing a 
revised version of his monograph which will be published by the Marine Corps. 

Pending the completion of final Air Force histories, the chief source for 
Army Air Force operations has been Guadalcanal and the Origins of the 
Thirteenth Air Force (July 1945), Army Air Forces Historical Studies, No. 35, 
by the Assistant Chief of Air Staff, Intelligence, Historical Division. This 
typewritten history, somewhat lacking in operational detail, is generally excel- 
lent. It clearly analyzes Air Force problems of administration, command, sup- 
ply, and tactics in the South Pacific. It is in the Air Force Historical Office. 

Official Records 

This volume is based primarily upon official records. These records are of 
five general types: papers of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Joint Staff Plan- 
ners, records of the U. S. Army, the U. S. Navy, and the U. S. Marine Corps, 
and Japanese documents. 
Joint Papers 

A study of the contents of these papers is essential to an understanding of 
the most important strategic considerations and decisions relating to the war 
in the Pacific. Those consulted, filed in Registered Documents, Plans and Policy 
Group, Plans and Operations Division, GSUSA, are as follows: 

JCS Minutes of Meetings from the 1st Meeting to the 50th Meeting. 

JPS Minutes of Meetings from the 1st Meeting to the 50th Meeting. 

JCS Directive to Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur, approved by 
the President on 30 March 1942. 

JCS 21/2/0, and JPS 27/7, Defense of the Island Bases along the Line of 
Communication between Hawaii and Australia, 22 June 42 and 18 April 42. 
(JCS 48 bears the same title). 



378 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Army Records 

Army records relevant to the campaign are voluminous, but are uneven 
in quality and content. They range from such documents as radiograms be- 
tween the Chief of Staff and area commanders to the journals of battalions in 
combat. Some of the action reports and so-called histories of units in the field 
are inexact and sketchy; many are almost useless, but each one has been in- 
vestigated because often an all but useless document explains a point which is 
covered nowhere else. Only the Army records which bear directly on the 
Guadalcanal campaign are mentioned below. 

The Chief of Staff's Log, i 942-1943, filed in the Staff Communications Branch, 
Office, Chief of Staff, GSUSA, consists of the daily radiograms between General 
Marshall and the Army theater, area and task force commanders, and between 
General Marshall and such officers as General Harmon, who held a command 
subordinate to the Commander of the South Pacific Area. These radiograms 
give a succinct daily summary of the strategic situation throughout the world, 
throw light on joint and combined command, and summarize important plans 
and decisions. 

Files of the Operations Division, WDGS (now Plans and Operations 
Division, GSUSA) on the Southwest Pacific Area and the Pacific Ocean Areas 
for 1942 and 1943 contain a large amount of data on the Operations Division's 
plans, opinions, and decisions regarding the conduct of the war in overseas 
theaters. Many of General Harmon's letters to the War Department are in- 
cluded in these files, as is an original, signed copy of the JCS directive of 
2 July 1942. 

Since USAFISPA did not come into existence until 26 July 1942, and 
Army ground forces were not committed to Guadalcanal until 13 October 
1942, official USAFISPA records are valuable largely for the latter months of 
the campaign. A number of USAFISPA records were used. 

Lt. Gen. Millard F. Harmon, The Army in the South Pacific (6 June 
1944), is a brief narrative which was prepared by General Harmon as a guide 
to USAFISPA historians. It provides a useful summary of the Army's role in 
the planning and execution of the South Pacific Campaigns. A copy of General 
Harmon's report is in the files of the Historical Division, SSUSA. 

Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, Headquarters, USAFISPA, the Japanese 
Campaign in the Guadalcanal Area, 7 August 1943, is a sound study based on 
captured documents, reports from the XIV Corps, and interrogations of 
prisoners. Careful, conservative and accurate, the study is an excellent summary 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 



379 



of Japanese operations during the early months of the campaign. It is filed 
in the Military Intelligence Library, Department of the Army. 

Headquarters, USAFISPA, G-3 Worksheet Files and Periodic Reports for 
the latter months of the campaign yield some information on the Americal 
Division which is not to be found in that division's records. USAFISPA G-3 
documents are filed in the Organizational Records Branch, AGO, St. Louis, Mo. 

USAFISPA Historical Section's Russell Islands Folder contains valuable 
material on the planning for the Russells invasion. This folder is in the Histor- 
ical Records Section, Departmental Records Branch, AGO. 

Some miscellaneous documents, which were forwarded by USAFISPA 
to the Historical Division, SSUSA, contain some scattered reports from combat 
units on Guadalcanal. These will be forwarded to the Historical Records Sec- 
tion, Departmental Records Branch, AGO. 

Most of the records of the XIV Corps and its assigned units are in His- 
torical Records Section, Departmental Records Branch, AGO. Because the 
Corps headquarters was never numerically adequate during the campaign, its 
records are scanty. There is no comprehensive action report on file, nor have 
any G-i, G-3, or G-4 reports yet come to light. The most useful documents 
from the XIV Corps, besides G-2 translations, G-2 summaries, and G-3 
Journals and periodic reports, are XIV Corps' Informal Report on Combat 
Operations, submitted to General Harmon on 3 June 1943, and the G-2's Enemy 
Operations on Guadalcanal, 24 April 1943. The Informal Report is not a com- 
plete record of the campaign. It is the result of a questionnaire on weapons, 
tactics, logistics, etc., sent by USAFISPA headquarters to the XIV Corps. The 
Corps headquarters and component units answered the questions in detail. 
The report furnishes the student with a summary of tactical and logistical 
problems and procedures. Enemy Operations on Guadalcanal presents a de- 
tailed analysis of enemy order of battle, strength, plans, and operations, but it 
exaggerates enemy strength and presents several contradictory conclusions. 

There are at least 100 separate files, documents, reports, and histories from 
the Americal Division, but they vary greatly in usefulness. The division's action 
report provides only an outline. Historical Data, Task Force 6814 and Americal 
Division, is a valuable compendium of orders, troop lists, and reports. Lt. Col. 
Paul A. Gavan's Personal Experience Account of an Assistant Chief of Staff, 
G-3, includes helpful information on command decisions and operations. The 
G-2 and G-3 Journals and periodic reports are complete. The most valuable 
single Americal Division document is the Intelligence Annex to the Combat 



380 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Experience Report, Americal Division, Guadalcanal, 18 November 1942 to 
9 February 1943. Prepared by Lt. CoL William D. Long, it presents a large 
amount of information on enemy order of battle, dates of landings, orders and 
operations. A cautious, conservative report, it has been proved to be generally 
accurate. Reports and histories from the Americal Division component units, 
though often inadequate, have had to be relied upon. The i32d Infantry's 
History is lengthy but not always accurate; the unit reports and journals are 
fairly complete, but occasionally err. The 164th Infantry's operation reports are 
generally reliable; some of the unit reports covering the Koli Point and 
Matanikau operations in early November are missing. The i82d Infantry's 
operations reports are fair, but the journal entries for the period 18-31 January 
1943 are missing. 

Records of the 25th Division, though less voluminous than those of the 
Americal, contain more information. There are no G-i, G-2, G-3, or G-4 
reports as such. The 25th Division, however, prepared a report which is a 
model of its kind — Operations of the 25th Division on Guadalcanal, 17 Decem- 
ber 1942 to 5 February 1943. After the campaign General Collins conducted 
a series of critiques on the action, which were attended by virtually all the 
division's officers and by key enlisted men from each unit. The record of these 
critiques, compiled as 25th Division Operations, is an excellent source. It in- 
cludes data on the functioning of the engineer, quartermaster, medical, and 
signal troops as well as a detailed analysis of infantry and artillery operations. 
Held to establish and clarify the lessons learned in combat and to avoid future 
errors, the critiques are honest and frank. 25th Division Operations is the 
most valuable single Army divisional source relating to the Guadalcanal cam- 
paign. Most of the reports and histories of the 25th Division's component units 
are identical with the relevant sections of 25th Division Operations. 

The main source for the Russells operation is the 43d Division's Report 
of the Occupation of the Russell Islands, 9 February-2 May 1943, which in- 
cludes, besides a narrative account, task force and divisional plans, field orders, 
troop lists, and shipping schedules. 
Navy Records 

Several naval documents were consulted. Unless otherwise indicated, naval 
documents consulted are in the files of the Office of Naval Records and Library. 
The following records have been used: 

Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., Narrative Account of the South Pacific 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 



3 8i 



Campaign, 20 April 1942-15 June 1944 (distributed 3 September 1944). This 
work serves the same function as General Harmon's Army in the South 
Pacific. A copy is filed in the Historical Division, SSUSA. 

Commander in Chief, U. S. Fleet [COMINCH] (FF i/A 3-1/A16-3 (5), 
Serial 00322, Basic Plan for the Establishment of the South Pacific Amphibious 
Force [Lone Wolf Plan], 29 April 1942. A copy of this plan is filed in Regis- 
tered Documents, Plans and Policy Group, Plans and Operations Division, 
GSUSA. 

Commander in Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet [CINCPAC and CINCPOA] 
(A4-3/FF 12/A16 (6) Serial 01994), Basic Supporting Plan for Advanced Air 
Bases at Santa Cruz Island and Tulagi-Guadalcanal, 8 July 1942. A copy of this 
plan is filed in Registered Documents, Plans and Policy Group, Plans and 
Operations Division, GSUSA. 

(Serial 00749), Cruiser Action off Savo Island on the night of August 

8-9, 1942, 26 April 1942. 

(Serial 00599), Solomon Islands Campaign from Fourth Battle of 

Savo, 30 November 1942, to Munda Bombardment, 4-5 January 1943, 9 March 
1943 (The Fourth Battle of Savo has been renamed the "Battle of Tassa- 
faronga.") 

(Serial 00618) Solomon Islands Campaign from 6 January 1943 

Through Vila Bombardment, 23-24 January 1943, 19 March 1943. 

(Serial 00712), Solomon Islands Campaign, Fall of Guadalcanal, 

Period 25 January to 10 February 1943, 17 April 1943. 

South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force, War Diary, 1 May 1942-30 
June 1943. This diary contains the radios between COMSOPAC and his 
superiors and subordinates. Messages are, in general, reproduced in full, with 
their time groups in Greenwich Civil Time (Z time). 

Commander, South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force (A4-3/A16-3, 
Serial 0017), Operation Plan No. 1-42, 16 July 1942. 

(Serial 0053), Preliminary Report on WATCHTOWER Operation, 

16 August 1942. 

Commander, Task Force 61 [Commander, Cruisers, Pacific Fleet] (Serial 
0032), Operation Order No. 1-42 Operation WATCHTOWER, 28 July 1942. 

Commander Aircraft South Pacific Force [Commander, Task Force 63] 
(A4-3/A16-3, Serial 0016), Operation Plan No. 1-42, 25 July 1942. 

Commander, Amphibious Force, South Pacific Force [Commander, Task 



382 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Force 62], War Diary, 1 August 1942-28 February 1943. Admiral Turner's war 
diary contains, on the whole, brief entries rather than complete messages. 

(Serial 0010), Operation Plan No. A3-42, Operation WATCH- 
TOWER, 30 July 1942. 

(FE 25/A16-3, Serial 0055), Operation Plan No. A9-42, Task Organi- 
zation, Ndeni Occupation Force, 20 August 1942. (This plan was never car- 
ried out.) 

(FE 25/4, Serial 00206), Instructions for Ships Furnishing Logistic 

Support to Cactus and Ringbolt, 29 September 1942. 

(Serial 00195), Report of Operation for the Reinforcement of Guadal- 
canal Island Forces by the 7th Marines, Reinforced, 27 September 1942. 

(Serial 00469), Report of Operations of Task Force 67 and Task 

Group 62.4, Reinforcement of Guadalcanal, November 8-15, 1942, and Sum- 
mary of the Third Battle of Savo, 3 December 1942. (The Third Battle of Savo 
has been renamed the "Battle of Guadalcanal/') 

(Serial 00486), Action Report, Loss of U.S.S. Colhoun and the U.S.S. 

Gregory, 13 December 1942. 

(Serial 00231), Report of Rear Adm. V. A. C. Crutchley, RN [Com- 
mander, Task Group 62.6], 1st Battle of Savo Island, 8-9 August 1942, 6 
April 1943. 

Commander, Task Group 62.1 [Commander, Transport Divisions] South 
Pacific Force (Serial 0027) Report Action, Guadalcanal-Tulagi Area, Solomon 
Islands, August 7-8 and 9, 1942, 23 September 1942. 
Marine Corps Records 

General Vandegrift's Division Commander's Final Report on Guadalcanal 
Operation is an excellent divisional report, including a narrative report and a 
large number of annexes giving data on intelligence, artillery, pioneer, engineer, 
and medical activities, journal entries, orders, and sections from regimental 
histories. General Vandegrift's report is in five sections, and was issued during 
June, July, and August 1943. Copies of both Captain Zimmerman's monograph 
and General Vandegrift's report are filed in the Historical Division, SSUSA.* 
Complete Marine Corps records are filed in the Historical Section, Head- 
quarters, U. S. Marine Corps. 

* Capt. Herbert L. Merillat's popular work on the tst Marine Division on Guadalcanal — The Island 
(Boston, 1944) — contains largely the same material as General Vandegrift's report and Captain Zimmerman's 
monograph, as do the Guadalcanal chapters of Maj. Frank Hough's The Island War (Philadelphia, 1947) 
and Fletcher Pratt's The Marines' War (New York, I94 6 )- 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 



383 



Enemy Records 

Besides using the enemy data in USAFISPA, XIV Corps, and Americal 
Division records, this volume relies heavily upon interrogations of 17th Army 
officers, made in Tokyo in 1946 at the author's request by G-3 AFPAC historians 
and members of ATIS, SCAP. Those interrogated were as follows: Lt. Gen. 
Harukichi Hyakutake (former CG, 17th Army); Lt. Gen. Masao Maruyama 
(former CG, 2d Division); Maj. Gen. Shuicho Miyazaki (former CofS, 
17 Army); Maj. Gen. Harua Konuma (former staff officer, 17th Army); 
Maj. Gen. Harukazu Tamaki (former CofS, 2d Division) ; Maj. Gen. Tadashi 
Sumiyoshi (former CG, 17th Army Artillery); Col Shigetaka Obara (former 
CO, 2gth Infantry), and Col. Yoshitsugu Sakai (former CO, 16th Infantry). 
General Miyazaki's Personal Account is useful, if somewhat biased. ATIS, 
SWPA's Enemy Publications and Current Translations, filed in the Military 
Intelligence Library, yield much information on enemy movements during the 
early days of the campaign. ATIS, SCAP's Historical Reports of Naval Opera- 
tions furnish much data on naval battles. 

The most comprehensive account available of Japanese operations on 
Guadalcanal is to be found in 17th Army Operations (2 vols., typewritten, n.p., 
September, 1946), which is part of the Japanese Studies in World War II, a 
series now being prepared by former Japanese officers in Tokyo under the aus- 
pices of the G-2 Historical Section, U. S. Far Eastern Command, and translated 
by ATIS, SCAP. Volume I of 17th Army Operations was originally begun in 
1944 by Lt. Col. Norikuni Sadashima* of the War History Investigation Section 
of the Japanese Army General Staff, from private and official sources; Maj. 
Gen. Harua Konuma, a former 17th Army staff officer, gave Sadashima his 
personal recollections. Those sections of Volume II, consisting of four parts of 
Chapter IV, which deal with Guadalcanal were begun by Lt. Col. Norikuni 
Tagima* (Tajima?) in 1944, using official records, personal memories, and 
the notes and recollections of Komuna. 17th Army Operations, which deals 
with Guadalcanal, New Guinea, and the rest of the Solomons, consists largely 
of reproduced army and divisional orders, strung together on a thin thread of 
tactical narrative. It is badly organized and the accompanying maps are poor. 
The translation is uneven; for example, u 1st Demobilization Bureau" is repro- 
duced on the title page of Volume I as " 1st Mobilization Department!' Although 



* It is possible that these names are garbled. The only Japanese list available at this writing, ATIS, 
SWPA's Alphabetical List of Japanese Army Officers (GHQ, SWPA, 1943), does not list a Norikuni Sadashima 
or a Norikuni Tagima. 



3 8 4 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Hyakutake, Miyazaki, Maruyama, and Sumiyoshi were available for interroga- 
tion, the authors of iyth Army Operations do not appear to have consulted 
them. In consequence the counteroffensive in October 1942 is not clearly or 
fully explained. Many of the errors in tactical judgment and execution com- 
mitted by the Japanese are glossed over. The study, however, possesses great 
value; it furnishes the student with specific data on command decisions, plans, 
orders, strength and casualty figures, names, and dates which are not available 
elsewhere, iyth Army Operations was received by the Historical Division in 
late June 1948, just as this volume was about to go to press. Every one of the 
volume's important conclusions about the Japanese on Guadalcanal, which had 
been reached by studying all other available sources, was supported by iyth 
Army Operations. The enemy account was therefore used to fill, wherever 
possible, the existing gaps and add greater precision to the narrative. 



Interviews 



Besides the interviews by USAFISPA historians, interviews of available 
American participants were conducted by the author after the war to clarify ob- 
scure or contradictory points in the official records. Generals Harmon and Patch 
were both dead at the inception of the author's work on this volume, but several 
other officers were interviewed. Those interviewed were: Lt. Gen. J. Lawton Col- 
lins (former CG, 25th Division) ; Maj. Gen. Pedro A. del Valle, USMC (former 
CO and CG, nth Marines); Brig. Gen. Robert H. Pepper, USMC (former CO, 
3d Defense Battalion); Brig. Gen. Edmund B. Sebree (former Asst Div Comdr 
and CG, Americal Division) ; Col. William W. Dick, Jr. (former CO, 8th Field 
Artillery Battalion) ; Col. William H. Allen, Jr. (former CO, 64th Field Artillery 
Battalion) ; Col. George E. Bush (former CO, 3d Battalion, 27th Infantry) ; Col. 
Paul A. Gavan (former G-3, Americal Division) ; Col. James J. Heriot (former 
CO, 90th Field Artillery Battalion) ; Col. Stanley R. Larsen (former CO, 2d Bat- 
talion, 35th Infantry) ; Col. William D. Long (former G-2, Americal Division) ; 
Col Mervyn Magee (former ExO, Americal Division Artillery); Col. Herbert 
V. Mitchell (former CO, 2d Battalion, 27th Infantry) ; Lt. Col Thomas J. Badger 
(former S-3, 64th Field Artillery Battalion) ; Lt. Col. Dean Benson (former S-2, 
25th Division Artillery) ; Lt. Col. James B. Leer* (former CO, 1st Battalion, 35th 
Infantry) ; Maj. Mischa N. Kadick (former CO, Headquarters Company, 25th 
Division Artillery); and Capt. Harry C. Schleh (former Adj, 164th Infantry). 
Records of these interviews are in the files of the Historical Division, SSUSA. 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 



385 



Published Works 

[BRITISH] CENTRAL OFFICE OF INFORMATION, Among Those 
Present: The Official Story of the Pacific Islands at War. London: HM Station- 
ery Office, 1946. This work is useful and entertaining but lacks precision. 

FELDT, COMMANDER ERIC A., RAN. The Coastwatchers. Melbourne 
and New York: Oxford University Press, 1946. This exciting book, prepared by 
the wartime chief of the coastwatchers, contains information essential to an under- 
standing of the South Pacific campaigns. 

H ALSEY, FLEET ADMIRAL WILLIAM F., and BRYAN, LT. COMDR. 
JULIAN. Admiral Halsey's Story. New York: Whittlesey House, 1947. Halsey's 
book is an interesting and generally accurate popular account, but the chapters on 
the Solomons add little new information. 

KING, ADMIRAL ERNEST J. Our Navy at War: A Report to the Sec- 
retary of the Navy Covering our Peacetime Navy and our Wartime Navy and 
Including Combat Operations up to March 1, 1944. U. S. News, March 1944. 

MARSHALL, GENERAL GEORGE C. Biennial Report of the Chief of 
Staff of the United States Army, July 1, 1941 to June 30, 1943, to the Secretary of 
War. Washington : Government Printing Office, 1943. 

ROBSON, R. W. (ed.). Pacific Islands Year Boo^ Sydney: Pacific Publica- 
tions, Ltd., 1942. The Year Boo\ is valuable for data on geography, climate, ter- 
rain, and natives, as is the secret Survey of the Solomon Islands (2 vols) by MID, 
WDGS, 15 March 1943. 

U. S. NAVY, OFFICE OF NAVAL INTELLIGENCE printed confiden- 
tial Combat Narratives which give a good account of each naval battle, but they 
were prepared during the war before enemy sources became available, and are 
subject to future revision. Those consulted were Miscellaneous Actions in the 
South Pacific, 8 August 1942-22 January 1943 (1943), and the Solomon Islands 
Campaign, Vols. I through X. 

UNITED STATES STRATEGIC BOMBING SURVEY, PACIFIC, 
NAVAL ANALYSIS DIVISION prepared three studies which the student of 
the Pacific War will find extremely valuable if he uses them with caution. The 
Campaigns of Pacific War (Washington, 1946) provides a helpful summary of 
naval engagements, showing Allied and Japanese forces involved and their losses, 
but contains some minor errors. Interrogations of Japanese Officials (2 vols., n.d.) 
is valuable, but must be taken with more than a grain of salt; it should be remem- 
bered that the Japanese officers who were interrogated were naturally anxious to 
make a good case for themselves. The Marshalls-Gilberts-New Britain Party of 



386 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



USSBS' Naval Analysis Division prepared an excellent study in the Allied Cam- 
paign Against Rabaul (1946), which contains a narrative account of the Japanese 
side as well as the interrogations of responsible Japanese Army and Navy officers 
at Rabaul upon which the narrative is based. Allied Campaign Against Rabaul 
gives more information on the later phases of the Solomons campaigns than on 
Guadalcanal, for most of the Japanese officers who were interrogated were not at 
Rabaul during the first months of the Guadalcanal campaign. 

The following articles, all written by men who fought on Guadalcanal, are 
helpful : 

BAGLIEN, LT. COL. SAMUEL, "The Second Battle for Henderson Field," 
Injantry Journal, LIV, 5 (May 1944). 

CASEY, CAPT. JOHN R, JR., "An Artillery Forward Observer on Guadal- 
canal," Field Artillery Journal, XXXIII, 8 (August 1943). 

CATES, BRIG. GEN. CLIFTON B., (USMC), "Battle of the Tenaru [Ilu]/' 
Marine Corps Gazette, XXVII, 6 (October 1943). 

DEL VALLE, BRIG. GEN. PEDRO A., (USMC), "Marine Field Artillery 
on Guadalcanal," Field Artillery Journal, XXXIII, 10 (October 1943) and Marine 
Corps Gazette, XXVIII, 2 (February 1944). 

GILDART, LT. COL. ROBERT F., "Guadalcanal's Artillery," Field Artil- 
lery Journal, XXXIII, 10 (October 1943). 



UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II 



The following volumes have been published: 

The War Department 

Chief of Staff: Prewar Plans and Preparations 
Washington Command Post: The Operations Division 
Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare: 1941-1942 
Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare: 1943—1944 
Global Logistics and Strategy: 1 940-1 943 
Global Logistics and Strategy: 1 943—1 945 
The Army and Economic Mobilization 
The Army and Industrial Manpower 

The Army Ground Forces 

The Organization of Ground Combat Troops 

The Procurement and Training of Ground Combat Troops 

The Army Service Forces 

The Organization and Role of the Army Service Forces 

The Western Hemisphere 

The Framework of Hemisphere Defense 
Guarding the United States and Its Outposts 

The War in the Pacific 

The Fall of the Philippines 
Guadalcanal: The First Offensive 
Victory in Papua 

CARTWHEEL: The Reduction ofRabaul 

Seizure of the Gilberts andMarshalls 

Campaign in the Marianas 

The Approach to the Philippines 

Leyte: The Return to the Philippines 

Triumph in the Philippines 

Okinawa: The Last Battle 

Strategy and Command: The First Two Years 
The Mediterranean Theater of Operations 

Northwest Africa: Seizing the Initiative in the West 

Sicily and the Surrender of Italy 

Salerno to Cassino 

Cassino to the Alps 
The European Theater of Operations 

Cross-Channel Attack 

Breakout and Pursuit 

The Lorraine Campaign 

The Siegfried Line Campaign 

The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge 

The Last Offensive 

Riviera to the Rhine 

The Supreme Command 

Logistical Support of the Armies, Volume I 

Logistical Support of the Armies, Volume II 



The Middle East Theater 

The Persian Corridor and Aid to Russia 

The China-Burma-India Theater 
StilweWs Mission to China 
StilweWs Command Problems 
Time Runs Out in CBI 

The Technical Services 

The Chemical Warfare Service: Organizing for War 

The Chemical Warfare Service: From Laboratory to Field 

The Chemical Warfare Service: Chemicals in Combat 

The Corps of Engineers: Troops and Equipment 

The Corps of Engineers: The War Against Japan 

The Corps of Engineers: The War Against Germany 

The Corps of Engineers: Military Construction in the United States 

The Medical Department: Hospitalization and Evacuation; Zone of Interior 

The Medical Department: Medical Service in the Mediterranean and Minor Theaters 

The Medical Department: Medical Service in the European Theater of Operations 

The Ordnance Department: Planning Munitions for War 

The Ordnance Department: Procurement and Supply 

The Ordnance Department: On Beachhead and Battlefront 

The Quartermaster Corps: Organization, Supply, and Services, Volume I 

The Quartermaster Corps: Organization, Supply, and Services, Volume II 

The Quartermaster Corps: Operations in the War Against Japan 

The Quartermaster Corps: Operations in the War Against Germany 

The Signal Corps: The Emergency 

The Signal Corps: The Test 

The Signal Corps: The Outcome 

The Transportation Corps: Responsibilities, Organization, and Operations 
The Transportation Corps: Movements, Training, and Supply 
The Transportation Corps: Operations Overseas 
Special Studies 

Chronology: 1941-1945 

Military Relations Between the United States and Canada: 1939-1945 
Rearming the French 

Three Battles: Arnaville, Altuzzo, and Schmidt 
The Women's Army Corps 
Civil Affairs: Soldiers Become Governors 
Buying Aircraft: Materiel Procurement for the Army Air Forces 
The Employment of Negro Troops 
Manhattan: The Army and the Atomic Bomb 
Pictorial Record 

The War Against Germany and Italy: Mediterranean and Adjacent Areas 
The War Against Germany: Europe and Adjacent Areas 
The War Against Japan 



Index 



Aaron Ward, 185 

Adjustment of fire, 299-300, 309, See also Regis- 
tration of fire. 
Admiralty Islands, 12-13 

Advanced bases, 13-21. See also Air bases; Bases; 
Naval bases. 

Aerial reconnaissance, 43, 45-46, 70, 81, 93, 120, 
129, 156, 203, 221, 235, 257, 261, 266, 281, 
3io, 323, 334, 338-40 

Aerosol dispensers, for malaria control, 227 

Aid stations, 240 

Air attacks 

Allied, 31, 33, 37-39, 52-53> 59, 61, 67, 100- 
01, 146, 151, 159, 164, 167-69, 185-88, 197, 
205, 230—31, 245, 258, 264, 266, 268-70, 
285, 349 

Japanese, 77, 80, 8in, 82, 87, 89—90, 92-93, 
100, 103-05, 107-10, 116, 129, 142, 146-51, 
162, 166, 172-73, 177, 181, 189, 210, 212, 
336, 338, 353, 355 
Air bases 

Allied, 15, 27-28, 32, 85-86, 108 
Japanese, 4—8, 13, 20, 30 
Air forces. See also Air attacks; Air support. 
Allied, 5, 15-17, 107-10, 172-74, 202, 220-22, 

230, 232, 337-38> 352 
Japanese, 30, 34, 37, 107-10, 120, 173, 227, 
258, 355 
Air Force, Thirteenth, 218 
Air observation, for registering fire, 70 
Air patrol. See Reconnaissance, aerial- 
Air power. See also Air forces. 
Allied, 32, 82 
Japanese, 298 
Air squadrons, 12, 17, 32, 38, 40, 53, 59, 86, 148. 
See also Bombardment squadrons; Fighter 
squadrons. 

Air support, 30—31, 71, 151—52, 172, 210, 260, 332, 
344 

carrier-based, 8-10, 34-37* 55, 61, 78-79, 81-83 
land-based, 10, 14, 17, 20, 28, 30-31, 34— 35, 79, 

85-86, 144, 179-80, 192, 221-22, 239, 264, 

268-70, 309, 322, 340, 352 



Air support director groups, 38 

Air Support Force, 19, 34-35, 59, 81 

Air Support Group, 36 

Air warning system, 90, 222 

Aircraft. See Bombardment planes; Fighter planes. 
Aircraft carriers 

Allied, 8-14, 16-20, 25-27, 34, 36-37, 39, 54- 
55, 59-6i, 78-79, 82-83, 86, 99, 152, 167- 
69, 170, 179, 336 
Carrier groups, 167-69 
Carrier task forces, 99-100, 180-81, 185 
Japanese, 5, 85, 95, 99-100, 152, 167-69, 179, 
186, 336 
Airdromes. See Airfields. 

Airfields, Allied, 70, 71-75, 139—40, 143, 152-53, 
162, 173-74, 183-86, 210, 213—14, 235. See 
also Air bases; Henderson Field. 
Aola Bay, 175 

construction of, 25-27, 30, 34~35, 83-90, 221- 

22, 355-56 
defense of, 233 
Efate, 59 
Espiritu Santo, 59 

Lunga area, 49, 107, 166-67, 190, 197, 204 
materials for, 28 

Russell Islands, 351, 353, 355-56 
sites for, 25 

Airfields, Japanese, 4, 19, 44-45, 90, 155, 179, 230- 
3i 

Air-to-ground communication, 55, 71, 309 
Alchiba, 177, 189, 223 
Aleutian Islands, 5 
Alhena, 104, 123 
Ambulances, 75, 241, 260, 314 
Ambush, Japanese, 204 

Americal Division, 141—42, 174, 180, 197, 205, 
213, 228n, 238, 240-41, 24/n, 253, 255-58, 
261-62, 265, 278, 306, 314, 322, 330-32, 
338n, 340—41, 343, 346. See also Infantry 
Divisions; Marine Divisions; Composite 
Army-Marine Division, 
command and organization, 172, 214—17, 218 
relieved of New Caledonia mission, 180 



389 



39° 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Amcrical Division — Continued 

strength on arrival in Guadalcanal, 220 

summary of losses, 350 
Ammunition, American, 70, 81 , 101, 134, 174, 181, 
198, 254, 264, 314, 344 

allowance reduced, 48 

American superiority, 313 

armor-piercing, 149 

for Russell Islands, 354 

hand-carrying of, 204, 240 

high-explosive, 149 

loading of, 49 

machine gun, 83 

plans for supply, 28 

priority for, 58 

supply by air, 289 

supply problems, 309 

transport problems, 258-60, 314 

unloading of, 123 
Ammunition, Japanese, 73, 112, 119, 151, 154, 196, 
230, 237, 244, 276, 279, 290, 295, 305, 335, 
342 

Ammunition carriers, 75 

Ammunition dumps, 240, 260 

Amoebic dysentery, 313. See also Dysentery. 

Amphibian tractor battalions, 47, 89, 125. See also 

Marine battalions. 
Amphibian tractor troops, 47, 52 
Amphibian tractors, 57-58, 70, 75, 103, 115, 133, 

144 

Amphibious assaults. See Amphibious operations. 
Amphibious divisions, 9, 20 
Amphibious forces, 5, 17 
Amphibious Forces 

CLEANSLATE, 352-55 

of the Expeditionary Force, 19, 28—40, 35^ 45, 
48, 55~57> 59-6i, 77-8i> 9<>, 101-03, 123-25 

South Pacific, 12, 17—20, 28-29, 34> 40~47> 
141-42, 223 

Amphibious operations, 3-5, 9-10, 44, 50, 57-58, 
61-62, 82, 87, 153, 192, 352-54. See also 
Landings. 

Anchorages, in Solomon Islands, 5, 25, 179, 223 
Andaman Islands, 9 
Anemia, casualties from, 212 
Antiaircraft artillery, 144, 164, 355-56 

regiments, 140 

batteries, 107 
Antiaircraft cruisers, 167, 179 
Antiaircraft defense, 54, 125, 222 
Antiaircraft guns, 38, 85, 90, 107, 335, 342, 355 



1 -inch, 73 

3 -inch, 73 
Antitank Companies 

35th Infantry, 283, 294—95, 295n, 303-04 

147th Infantry, 320 

161st Infantry, 348 

164th Infantry, 164 
Antitank grenades, 307 
Antitank guns 

American, 144, 157, 162, 217, 267—68, 301, 309, 
326 

Japanese, 73, 309, 332, 342 
Antitank mines, 143 
Aoba, 147 
Aola, 45 

Aola Bay, 44, 93, i74~77. 198, 200 
Aola Bay Force, 175-77, 180 
Aola River, 175 
Aotea Quay, Wellington, 48 
Approach marches 

in deep jungles, 306 

to Gifu strong point, 243, 249, 250 

to Sea Horse, 283-85 
Argonne, 31, 172 
Armor, on fighter planes, 87 
Army Air Forces 

role in general plan, 22 

units in South Pacific, 86-87, 218, 221 
Arthur, Col. John M., CO 2d Marines, 52, 104, 195, 
200, 237 

Artillery, American, 1 05-07, 117, 137, 1 98, 
205-08, 215, 235, 30on, 305, 325. See also 
Artillery preparation; Artillery support. 

adjustment of fire, 299—300, 309 

concentrations, 251, 268—70, 307 

counterbattery fire, 177, 180-81, 188, 230 

displacement of, 327 

dispositions, 204, 237-38, 256, 258 

observation for, 131 

registration of fire, 70, 97, 11 6-1 7, 260, 267a, 
shortages of, 89 

supply and transportation, 43, 92, 174^* 258-60, 
344 

tactical methods, 155, 161-62, 340, 267, 309 
Artillery, Japanese, 89—90, 97, 105, 112-14, 
1 17-19, 126, 129, 131, 139-40, 143, 148-51, 
153, I 55~5&> 159-60, 162, 166, 179-80, 190, 
196, 205-08, 230, 250-51, 254, 258, 298, 
311-13, 332 

Artillery battalions, 47, 54, 70, 89, 190, 202, 258, 



INDEX 



Artillery Battalions — Continued 

260, 300n, 326. See also Field artillery 
battalions. 

Artillery preparation, 245, 258, 262, 266, 268, 274, 

285, 292, 298-300, 325, 34I-4 2 
Artillery support, 54, 97, 128, 134, 208, 237—39, 

244, 249, 255, 258, 271-72, 278, 283, 286, 

296-98, 299, 309, 322, 330-32, 334, 340-42, 

348 
Artillerymen 

American, 22, 47, 70, 115, 238—40, 258, 26on, 

264, 313 
Japanese, 186, 250 
Assault battalions, 69, 262, 326 
Assault companies, 271, 273—74, 2 86, 295 
Assault troops, 52—53, 57, 250 
Aston, Lt. Col. Louie C, 262 
Astoria, 36—37, 78, 80 
Atabrine, for malaria, 141, 227, 318 
Atlanta, 184-85 
Atlantic Fleet, 29 

Attacks. See also Air attacks; Amphibious opera- 
tions. 

co-ordinated, 247, 270, 276, 319, 322 

flank, 97, 118, 129, 133, 159, 196—97, 202, 205,- 

209, 233, 235, 286 
frontal, 1 17-18, 128-34, 157, 161-62, 167, 195, 

200, 205—09, 244-46, 292, 295, 307, 330—32 
holding, 129—31, 246, 249—50, 265, 323, 325—26 
night attacks, 161, 164—65, 235, 251, 274, 275^ 

329 

on Galloping Horse, 255-78 

on Gifu strong point, 243—46 

on Mount Austen, 232—52 

on Sea Horse, 283-90 

tank, 133, 293n, 2g6n, 303-05, 309 
Attrition rate, of aircraft, 86, 107 
Auckland, New Zealand, 19, 23, 28, 31—32, 41 
Australia, 12—13, 44—45, 173, 213, 215 

air bases in, 15 

coastwatchers, 7-8 

defense of, 2 

Government of, 7 

included in SWPA, 2 

Japanese plans against, 5—7 

line of communications, 1—3, 8, 83, 135, 350 

troop strength in, 10, 22 
Australia, 37, 78—79 
Australian Division, 7th, 9 
Australian forces, 4, 7, 43 

Australian Mandated Territory of New Guinea, 24 



Automatic riflemen, 344 
Automatic weapons 

American, 54, 107, 206-08, 240, 303 

Japanese, 199, 240, 244 

pistols, 249, 307 

rifles, 217, 309 
Aviation Engineer Battalion, 1st, 175, 183 
Aviation fuel, 79, 83. See also Gasoline. 

Bagley, 78 

Bailey, Maj. Kenneth, 117, 128 
Ballard, 128-29 
Banika, 353—54, 356 
Barbed wire, 97 

Japanese employment, 30on, 303 

scarcity of, 87 

tactical use, 126, 133, 164, 307 
Barton, 185 
Base Depot, 1st, 49 
Base Forces, 8 
Base of fire, 266—67 
Bases. See also Air bases; Naval bases. 

Allied, 2, 4, 13-14, 21-22, 27-28, 31, 34, 82, 
2i3> 350-51, 353i 356 

Japanese, 4, 13, 20, 35, 73, 189, 230 
Battalion landing teams^ 40, 47, 354~55 
Battalions. See Field artillery battalions; 

Infantry battalions; Marine battalions. 
Batteries, antiaircraft, 107 
Battle casualties. See Casualties. 
Battle fatigue, 252 
Battleships 

Allied, 27, 99-101, 172, 179, 186-88, 189, 336 

Japanese, 85, 99-100, 149, 167-69, 179, 183-88, 
336 
Bayonets 

assaults, 96-97, 195, 270 

tactical use, 307, 313 
Beach, Capt. Charles E M 320—22 
Beach Blue, Tulagi, 61-62 

Beach defense, 143-44, See also Beachheads; 

Landing beaches. 
Beach parties, 75~77» 355 

Beach Red, Guadalcanal, 67-70, 75-78, 83, 101-03, 

122, 218 
Beaches. See Landing Beaches. 
Beachheads, securing of, 69-70, 453—54 
Beaufort Bay, 175, 233, 319-20, 329, 343~44 
Bellatrix, no, J 23 
Berthing space, shortages of, 223 



392 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Betelgeuse, 36, 55, 59, no, 123, 181—83 
Bismarck Archipelago, 4, 7, 30, 37, 44, 82, 140* 

352. See also Admiralty Islands; New Britain; 

New Ireland. 
Block Four River, 77, 97 
Bloody Ridge, 116-19, 126, 144, 159-61, 164 
Blue, 78-79 

Blue Beach, Russell Islands, 354 

Boat pool, for landings, 55-57 

Boats, for evacuation of wounded, 314. See also 

Landing craft. 
Boise, 147 

Bombardment. See Air attacks; Artillery; Naval 

fire support. 
Bombardment Groups 

nth, 20, 59 

90th, 220 

Bombardment planes, 10, 13, 79, 82, 107, 146, 185, 
188 

amphibious patrol, 31 

B-I7, r6, 20, 27, 32, 45, 59, 85—87, 99-100, 
108, 149, 151, 173-74, 180, 193, 220, 288— 
89 

B— 26, 16, 32, 221 

dive bombers, SBD, 32, 38, 61-63, 65n, 67, 82, 
86, 100, 108—09, i I2 > I 3 I » I 47~ 5i> 172— 74, 
192—93, 221, 239, 260, 264 

heavy, 82, 85—86, 108, 140, 148-49, 152, 172-73, 
220 

Hudson, 174 

Japanese, 4, 12, 77-79, 108, 116, 129, 146, 148, 
181 

medium, 172 

PBY, 32, 83, 99, 220 

torpedo bombers, 108, 148, 172, 174, 221 
Bombardment Squadrons 

26th, 59 

69th, 33 

98th, 32 

43ist, 32 
Bonegi River, 340-42 
Bora Bora, 22 

Bougainville, 5, 12, 24, 33, 77-78, 92, 231, 351 
Bougainville Strait, 78, 167 
Breakout, Japanese attempts, 133, 199 
Bren gun carriers, British, 142 
Bridges, 28, 131 

construction of, 70, 103, 192-93, 206, 225, 253, 

316 

demolition of, 202—03 

scarcity in Solomon Islands, 43, 92, 340 



Brisbane, Australia, 10, 54 

British Commonwealth of Nations, 2 

British Eastern Fleet, 12, 20 

British Solomon Islands Defense Force, 93 

British Solomon Islands Protectorate, 1, 4—5, 24 

Browning automatic rifles, 309 

Buchanan, 183 

Buin, 5, 7, 179-80, 220, 336, 349 

Buka, 5, 20, 24, 30, 33-34, 81, 86, 92, 152, 167, 351 

Bulldozers, 83, 85, 314-16 

Bunina, 346 

Burden, Capt. John M., 298—99 

Bush, Lt. Col. George E., 262, 266-72, 267^ 270^ 

27m, 325, 333-34 
Butler, Maj. H. W., 344-45 

"Cactus," 32n, 85, 140 

Callaghan, Rear Adm. Daniel J., 175, 177, 181-84 
Cameras, use in reconnaissance, 340 
Camouflage, 258 

equipment for, 48 

Japanese, 230, 244, 294, 313 

of aircraft, 162 
Canberra, 78, 80 
Canister, 123, 165, 303 
"Cannibal Battalion," native bearers, 238 
Cannibalism, attributed to Japanese, 229, 229n 
Cannon Company, 35th Infantry, 283, 30on 
Canteens, use in jungle, 70, 204 
Cape Cretin, 167 

Cape Esperance, 30, 44, 60, 78, 146, 155, 179, 184, 
228-30, 233, 319-20, 323, 335-36, 338, 

343-44. 346-49, 35i 
Cape Nagle, 343 
Cargo ships 

Allied, 13, 17, 40, 47-49, 55, 75» 80, 104, no, 
140, 146, 149, 179, 183, 223, 352 

Japanese, 99, 139, 167, 179, 186 
Cargo -transport planes, 87 
Carlson, Lt. Col. Evans F., 200 
Carney Field, 222, 335 
Caroline Islands, 2, 4 
Carriers. See Aircraft carriers. 
Casualties, American 

Bloody Ridge, 119 

evacuation of, 209, 237, 241, 245, 249, 254, 260, 
272, 314 

first January offensive, 27on, 294, 295 

from air attacks, 149 

from Japanese counterorTensive, 166 



INDEX 



393 



Casualties, American — Continued 

from malaria, 141, 155, 209-10, 217, 227, 249, 

252, 294 
Galloping Horse, 270, 278, 335 
Gifu strong point, 243, 245—46, 252 
Guadalcanal landing, 75 
Hill 27, 250—51 
Uu River, 97 
in final operations, 342 
Kokumbona offensive, 208-09 
Koli Pocket, 200 

Matanikau River, 91—92, 129-31, 133-34, 157 
naval, 177 

nonbattle, 43, 141, 199, 209-12, 225-27, 229, 
246, 252, 294, 313 

planning for care, 31—32 

summary for campaign, 350, 35on 

Tanambogo-Gavutu, 67 

Tasimboko, 111 

Tulagi landing, 65 
Casualties, Japanese, 65-67, 92, 97, 112, 119, 11911, 
133-34, r 57> 165-66, 188, 195, 200, 229, 
229n, 237, 239, 245, 250, 252, 270, 276, 279, 
286, 290, 300-05, 305n, 329-30* 332, 334-35» 
342, 346, 346n, 350, 35on, 
Cates, Col. Clifton B., CO 1st Marines, 47, 52 
Cavalry Reconnaissance Troops 
25th, 257, 281 292, 303 

43d. 354 
Cave warfare, 65 
Central Pacific Area, 2-3, 34 
Chemical warfare, equipment for, 48 
Chicago, 39, 78, 80 
Chitose, 100 
Choiseul, 24, 33 
Chokjii, 80 

Christmas Island, 2, 173 
CLEANSLATE Amphibious Force, 352-55 
Clemens, Capt. Martin, 93 
Climate, of Solomon Islands, 25, 43—44, 141 
Close combat, weapons for, 307 
Close envelopment, 246. See also Envelopment. 
Close support. See also Air support; Artillery 
support; Naval fire support. 

air, 309 

artillery, 309 
Clothing 

allotment of, 47—48 

for jungle warfare, 58, 316—17 
Coast artillery, 219 

batteries, 105, 140 



guns, 38 

Coast Artillery Battalion, 244th, 177, 180, 188 
Coastal corridor, on Guadalcanal, 340 
Coastwatchers, 7—8, 24, 44—45, 77, 92—93, 129, 

233, 310, 319, 346 
Coastwatching Service, 7—8 
Coastwatching stations, 222 
Colhoun, 104 

Collecting stations, for casualties, 241 
Collins, Maj. Gen. J. Lawton, CG 25th Division, 
247, 254-55 

assignment to South Pacific, 212 

biographical sketch, 255 

commands operations of 25th Division, 257—60, 
262, 276, 292, 296, 30on, 323, 326—27, 346, 
346n, 

Combat patrols. See Patrols. 
Combat-loading. 217—18 
Combined Chiefs of Staff, U.S.-British, 1, 3 
Combined Fleet, 5, 137, 177 
Command, problems of, 8—16 
Commander in Chief, POA. See Nimitz, Admiral 
Chester W. 

Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet. See King, Ad- 
miral Ernest J. 
Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet. See Nimitz, 

Admiral Chester W. 
Communications. See also Line of communications. 

air-to-ground, 38, 55, 71, 309, 317 

facilities for, 129 

Japanese, 156, 159 

problems of, 317 

radio, 39 

telephone, 267^ 317, 326, 355 
Communications troops, 47, 320, 344n 
Composite Army-Marine Division, 322, 322n, 

326-32, 340-41 
Congressional Medal of Honor, See Medal of Honor. 
Conoley, Maj. Odell M., 165 
Construction Battalion, 6th, 148 
Construction battalions. See Naval construction 

battalions. 

Contact patrols, 265, 270, 334. See also Patrols. 
Control vessels, assignment of, 38 
Convoys, Japanese, 185-86, 188-89, 202, 220 
Cook Islands, 3 

Co-ordinated attacks, 247, 270, 276, 319, 322 
Coral reefs 

around Fiji Islands, 55 

around Guadalcanal, 44 



394 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Coral Sea, Battle of, 5, 8, 20, 135 
Cordon defense, 270, 273 
Corps, VII, 255 
Corps, VIII, 218 

Corps, XIV, 209, 228n, 309, 336, 338 
activation, 218 

command and organization, 218—19 
engineering problems, 314—16 
final operations, 340, 342—45 
first January offensive, 253—80, 281—305 
intelligence, 310, 338—40 
plans for offensive, 232—33, 246—47, 252 
psychological warfare, 310— n 
responsibility for Russell Islands, 352, 356 
second January offensive, 319—35 
Corps artillery, 219 

Counterbattery fire, 177, 180— 8t, 188, 230 
Counteroffensives, Japanese, 120, 1 3.1— 69, 177—79, 

188, 190, 202, 251, 289, 2950, 337 
Crescent City, 183 

Cruisers, American, 17, 36, 38, 59—61, 69, 80— 8i, 
101, 122, 142, 146-47, 172, 181, 184, 1 86, 
197, 209n, 336 
antiaircraft, 167—69, 179, 184—85, 189 
heavy, 34, 36, 78, 99, 167, 179, 189 
light, 78, 99, 167-69, 179, 189 
Cruisers, Japanese, 79, 85, 95, 99—100, 147, 167, 

179, 183, 185-86, 188-89, 196, 336, 351 
Crutchley, Rear Adm. V. A. C, R.N., 36-37, 39-40, 
79 

Curtiss, 33 
Cushing, 185 

Custer, 1st Sgt. Stephen A., 91 

D Day, on Guadalcanal, 30, 33, 38, 40, 44, 49, 52, 

55, 103. 3 J o 
Dal ton, Col. James L., H, 346 
Daly, Lt. Col. Paul, 205 
Davis, Capt. Charles W., 273-76 
De Carre, Brig. Gen. Alphonse, Assistant Com- 
mander 2d Marine Division, 254, 341—42 
De Gaulle, Gen. Charles, 215 
Defense. See also Perimeter defense. 

against night attacks, 329 

artillery tactics, 309 

Japanese methods, 300-03, 313, 333 

of North America, 3 

passive, 199 

reverse slope, 273 

tactical principles, 306—09 



Defense battalions, Marine, 70, 219, 352. See also 

Marine battalions. 
Defenses, Japanese, 206—08, 233, 237, 243—44, 3 54> 

257, 279 
Defensive line, 320 
Defensive positions, 126, 143, 252 
Defilade, 206-07, 258-60, 300 
Delaying action, 193, 342 

del Valle, Col. Pedro A., CO nth Marines, 47, 52, 
202 

Dengue fever, casualties from, 43, 199 
Depth charges, 6$n t 260, 264, 270 
Destroyers 

American, 17, 34, 36, 38, 40, 55, 59—61, 69, 
77—80, 82—83, 99, 104, no, 122—23, 128—29, 
142, 146—47, 1 5-2, 1 67—69, 1 72, 1 79—83, 
184-89, 197, 209n, 322, 330, 336, 341-42, 
344, 352-55 
Japanese, 85, 95, 99-100, 139, 147, 162, 167, 179, 
183, 185—89, 196, 202, 209n, 230, 336, 338, 
346, 349> 351 

Destroyer-transports, 10, 39, 54, 60, 83, 104, 
iio-ii, 162, 175, 351-55 

Development, of enemy position, 243—45 

Diaries, Japanese, 73, 93, 134, 310 

Diet, of troops. See Rations. 

Directorate of Naval Intelligence, Royal Australian 

Navy, 7-8 
Disease, 155, 209 

among Japanese troops, 229—30, 22gn, 350, 35on 
casualties from, 43, 199, 209-12, 229, 246, 252, 
313 

control of, 43, 49-50, 141, 225-27, 318 
Displacement, of artillery, 327 
Dive bomber squadrons, 36-38 
Dive bombers, 36, 61-63, 65n, 67, 82, 86, 100, 

108-09, 131, 147, 151, 172, 221, 239, 260, 

264. See also Bombardment planes. 
Divisions. See Americal Division; Composite 

Army-Marine Division; Infantry Divisions; 

Japanese Units; Marine Divisions. 
Docks, shortages of, 223—25 

Documents, captured from Japanese, 310, 340, 342 

Doma Cove, 338, 348 

Doma Reef, 188 

Doolittle, Col. James H., 170 

Double envelopment, 266—68, 292, 296, 300 

DOVETAIL Operation, 32n 

"Dugout Sunday," 162 

Dugouts, 89 

Duke of York Islands, 4 



INDEX 



395 



Dump trucks, 83, 148, 238 
Duncan, 147 

Dysentery, casualties from, 209, 229, 252, 313 

East Indies, 30, 137 

Eastern Fleet, British, 9, 12 

Eastern Solomons, Battle of, 99-101, no 

Edson, Lt. Col. Merritt A., 52, 111, 117, 126—29, 

190, 195 
Edson's Ridge. See Bloody Ridge. 
Efate, 22, 31-33, 35* 44. 59. §7 
Ellice Islands, 122 
Enfilade fire, 254 

Engineer battalions, 47, 54, 70, 89, 125. See also 

Marine battalions. 
Engineer Combat Battalions 

57th, 215, 225, 238, 323 

65th, 323 
Engineers 

American, 47, 49, 52, 70, 73, 83, 1 15-16, 144, 
183, 190, 192-93, 203, 206, 225, 238, 240-41, 
260, 283, 3M-i6, 319, 323, 344n, 355 
Japanese, 114, 139, 154, 186 
Enterprise, 34, 45, 54, 86, 100, 108, 152, 167—70, 

179, 181, 185-86 
Entrenching tools, shortages of, 251 
Envelopment, 117— 18, 129—33, 134, 195, 199, 235, 
285—87, 290, 296-303, 307, 311, 319, 322-23 
close, 246 

double, 266-68, 292, 296, 300 

Gifu strong point, 244 

holding attack, 325—26 

main effort, 325 

shore-to-shore, 348—49 

wide, 155, 247, 261—62, 318 
Equipment. See also Supply. 

American superiority in, 313 

combat, 198 

engineering, 122 

for airfields, 141 

heavy, 81, 143, 238 

inadequate roads for, 43 

Japanese, 73, 112, 119, 146, 154—55, 230 

landing of, 39, 58, 122—23 

motor transport for, 49, 120 

shipping problems, 47—49, 81, 83-85, 223-25 

shortages of, 83, 85 
Escort carriers, 336 

Espiritu Santo, 5, 22, 31—33, 35, 59, 81, 83—87, 
103—04, no, 120—23, 139—40, 146, 149—52, 



173, 181, 185, 188, 193, 212, 220, 352 
Europe, plans for offensive in, 1—2 
Evacuation 
by air, 87 

of casualties, 209, 237, 241, 245, 249, 254, 260, 
272, 3M 

of Japanese from Guadalcanal, 296, 345n, 

348-49, 349n, 35i 
of Japanese from Russell Islands, 353 
problems of, 313 
Evacuation routes, 283 

Expeditionary Force, SOP AC, 19, 28-31, 55, 59 

Exploitation, 326 

Exton, Lt. Robert M., 273n 

Exton Ridge, 265, 271, 273, 275 



Faisi, 30, 86, 167, 179-80 
Farenholty 147 
Ferguson, Capt. Ben F., 268 
Ferry, Lt. Col. George F., 237, 247-49, 345-48 
Field artillery, 39, 140, 148-49, 268, 342 
Field artillery battalions, 75, 95, 262, 276 
Field Artillery Battalions. See also Marine Field 
Artillery Battalions. 

8th, 258, 262, 266, 274, 299, 325, 327 

64th, 258, 262, 289, 298—300, 327 

89th, 258, 262, 299, 327 

90th, 249, 249n, 258-60, 262, 299, 327 

97th, 314, 341, 346 

22ISt, 215, 220n, 258, 262, 299 
245th, 183, 208, 215 

246th, i74-75> 2I 5> 237-39 

247th, 214—15, 249 
Field Artillery Regiments 

72d, 217 

1 80th, 217 
Field exercises, 40 
Field Orders 

i32d Infantry No. 1, 246—47 

25th Division No. 1, 257 

XIV Corps No. 1 , 322 

XIV Corps No. 2, 340-41 
Fields of fire, n 5-1 6, 118, 125-26, 143, 161, 164 
Fighter Group (Army), 347th, 173 
Fighter planes, 9, 38, 61, 77, 79, 82, 83-86, 104, 
151, 162 

Grumman F4F, 35, 86, 107—09, 148—49, 173-74 
Japanese, 12, 108—09, II0 \ 148, 220, 231 
naval, 32, 35 

P-38, 108, 173-74, 220, 340 



396 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Fighter planes — Continued 

P-39> 87, 108, 148-49, 173-74, 192, 235, 260, 

264 
P-39F, 87 
P-40, 173^74 

P-400, 32, 86—87, 108-09, 112, 148-49, 173 
Fighter squadrons, 36—38, 39 
Fighter Squadrons 

1 2th, 220-21 

37th, 173 

44th, 220 

67th, 33, 86-87, 109) M8, 149-51 

68th, 221 

339th, 221 
Fighter Strips 

No. 1 (near Henderson Field), 151, 162, 221 

No. 2 (near Kukum), 222, 235, 238 
Fighter-bombers, 260 

Fighting French Forces in defense of New Cale- 
donia, 215 

Fiji Islands, 2-3, 5-7, 16, 22, 24, 31-34, 59, 135. 
214 

air bases on, 32 

rehearsal in, 28, 30, 43, 55-57 
Fire control, 71, 81, 107, 117, 222, 322 
Fire direction. See Fire control. 
Fire direction centers, 229 
Fire fights, 11 8, 251, 298 
Fire for effect, 300 
Fire power, 126, 244, 313 

Fire support. See Artillery support; Naval fire 
support. 

Fitch, Rear Adm. Aubrey W., COMAIRSOPAC, 

28n, 152, 175, 352 
Flame throwers, 65n, 99, 244, 279, 279n, 295, 295n, 

335, 342 
Flank attacks 

American, 97, 118, 129, 133, 205, 209, 233, 235 
Japanese, 159, 196—97, 202, 286 
Flank patrols, 287 

Flank security, 115-17, 125, 164, 190, 193, 205, 
247, 262, 264-65, 271-72, 286, 305, 311, 
322, 327, 332 

Flanking fire, 208, 254, 279 

Fleet Marine Force, 41 

Fletcher, Vice Adm. Frank J„ CTF 61, 19, 28-29, 
3i> 34-35, 40-41, 4on, 54-55, 79, 99~ioo 

Florida Group, 1st Marine Division, 52 

Florida Island, 17, 24—25, 38, 45, 50, 54, 60-61, 
65, 77-78, 80, 151, 223 

Fomalhaut, 49, 104, 110 



Food. See Radons. 
Formosa, 2 

Fournier, Sgt. William G., 286 

Foxholes, in jungle warfare, 89, 126, 133, 149, 157, 

204, 222, 251, 252, 307 
Franco, Lt. Col. Louis L., 239, 243 
Frontal attacks 

American, 128—34, 195, 200, 205—09, 244—46, 

292-95* 307> 330-32 
Japanese, n 7-1 8, 157, 161—62, 167 
Fuel, supply problems, 141, 173-74. See also 

Gasoline. 
Fuller, no, 177 
Funafuti, 122 
Fungus infections, 43 
Furumiya, Col. Masajiro, 162, 166 

Galloping Horse, 255-78, 281, 289, 293, 319-23, 

325, 327, 335 
Garand rifles, 307 
Gasmata, 4 
Gasol 

abandoned by Japanese, 73 
priority for, 58 

shortages of, 85, 149-51, 155, 173-74, 179-80 
supply problems, 83-86, 122-23, 355 
unloading of, no 

Gasoline drums, 83-85, 230, 283 

Gasoline tanks, 87 

Gastro-enteritis, casualties from, 141, 210 
Gavaga Creek, 196, 199 
Gavan, Lt. Col. Paul A., 205, 343, 345, 348 
Gavutu, 25, 30, 38, 45, 47, 50, 53, 61, 65-67, 75, 
in, 223 

Gavutu Group, 1st Marine Division, 52 
Gazelle Peninsula, 4 

Geiger, Brig. Gen. Roy S., CG 1st Marine Air Wing, 
86, 148 

George, Lt. Col. Alexander M., CO i32d Infantry, 

217, 249, 252, 343, 345 
George F. Elliott, 77-78 
Germany, strategy against, 1-2 
Ghormley, Vice Adm. Robert L., COMSOPAC, 
14-19, 23-24, 27, 33-34, 37i 58, 79> 82-85, 
99, 103, 108, 120, 140, 143, 146, 148, 15a 
estimate of Japanese strength, 44, 50 
favors occupation of Ndeni, 140—41 
plans for Solomons operation, 19—21, 28—32, 41 
succeeded by Admiral Halsey, 170 



INDEX 



397 



Gifu strong point, 243-46, 24311, 250, 252, 253- 
54, 257, 260, 27911, 281—85, 287, 290-305, 
29611, 323. 3^7> 335 

Gilbert Islands, 2, 170 

Gizo, 30, 86 

Goettge, Col. Frank B., 43-45, 91 
Goggin, Lt. Col. Roy F., 281 
Government House, on Tulagi, 53 
Government Track, coast road, 225 
Gregory, 104, 110 

Grenade dischargers, 251, 276, 279, 313 
Grenades, 117, 133, 157, 245, 274-75, 295, 303 

antitank, 307 

hand, 123, 307 

Japanese, 161, 199, 275, 294, 303 
Griffith, Lt. Col. Samuel B., II, 126-28 
Ground crews, 85, 104, 108 
Ground panel codes, 39 

Guadalcanal Fire Support Group, 36—38, 53, 55, 
61, 69 

Guadalcanal Group, Landing Force, 37, 51, 60 
Guides, use of, 43 
Gulf of Siam, 2 
Guns 

antiaircraft, 38, 73, 85, 107, 157, 335, 342, 355 
antitank, 73, 143-44, 162, 217, 267-68, 301, 

309, 326, 332, 342 
coast defense, 38 

Japanese, 153—54, 183—84, 195, 276, 279, 290, 

329» 332, 335. 342 
37-mm., 89, 96, 112, 142—44, 156—57, 164—65, 

266—67, 270, 326 
40-mm., 355 
70-mm,, 73 

75-mm., 73, 112, ii2n 
90-mm., 57, 90, 107, 355 
150-mm., 129 

155-mm., 89, 174—77, 180, 199, 219, 238, 255, 
355 

5 -inch, 57, 81, 90, 105, 148—49, 192 

Halavo, 61 
Halavo Peninsula, 52 
Haleta, 52, 61, 67 
Hall, T/5 Lewis, 286 
Hall, Lt. Col. Robert K., 161, 164-65 
Halsey, Admiral William F., Jr., COMSOPAC, 
172, 177, 212-13, 223, 236, 348 
biographical sketch, 170 

delegates responsibility to General Harmon, 



232-33 

in occupation of Russell Islands, 351—52 
naval support for campaign, 186, 192, 217, 220, 

336 

plans for campaign, 174—75, 179—80 
view on proposed Ndeni operation, 174 
Hand grenades, 123, 307 

Hand-carrying, of supplies, 198, 204, 206, 225, 
229, 237-38, 240, 254, 262, 283, 289, 293, 
314, 320, 323 

"Handy Talkie," 317 

Hanneken, Lt. Col. H. H., 134, 195—97 

Harbor patrol boats, 142, 162 

Harbors, 28, 44 

Harmon, Maj. Gen. Millard F., COMGENSOPAC, 
35, ggn, 172, 212-13, 217-20, 247 

biographical sketch, 22—23 

opposes occupation of Ndeni, 140—41, 174 

responsibilities increased, 232—33 

views on strategy, 82, 85-86, 107—08 
Haruna, 149 

Hawaiian Islands, 2, 10, 15-16, 20, 27, 172-73, 

212, 217, 220 
Health. See Sanitation. 
Heavy bombardment groups, 27 
Heavy Bombardment Groups 

5th, 173, 220 

nth, 27, 32-33, 173, 220 
Heavy bombardment squadrons, 1 73 . See also 

Bombardment squadrons. 
Heavy bombers, 82, 85—86, 108, 140, 148—49, 152, 

172, 220. See also Bombardment planes. 
Heavy machine guns, 70, 73, 162, 272—73 
Heavy mortars, 117 
Heavy weapons, 162, 268, 307, 327 
Heavy weapons troops, 69, 97, 165, 192, 252 
Helena, 147, 184, i85n, 192, 197 
Helm , 78, no 
Helmets, use in jungle, 317 
Henderson, Maj. Lofton, 83 

Henderson Field, 83—90, 86n, 92, 104, 105, 107- 
09, 112, 114, 117— 18, 125, 129, 137, 139, 141, 
143, 146-54, 160-62, 173^74, i77» 179-8°, 
185—86, 188, 193, 220-22, 223, 225, 230—33, 
335-36, 338, 351 

Hester, Maj. Gen. John H., CG Russells Occupa- 
tion Force, 352, 354 

Hey wood, 55 

Hici, 183-85 

High Commissioner for the Western Pacific, 24 
Hill, Maj. Robert E., 52 



39« 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Hill ii, 247-49 
Hill 19, 240 
Hill 20, 240, 243 
Hill 2.1, 240 

Hill 27, 235, 237, 23911, 243-44, 24311, 246-52, 

253, 281-85, 292, 294—96, 299-303, 304 
Hill 28, 243 

Hill 29, 243, 245-46, 250, 252, 292 

Hill 30, 241-43, 245-47, 252 

Hill 31, 235, 237, 241—46, 250, 252—53, 283, 292, 

299-300 
Hill 32, 243 
Hill 34, 258, 298 
Hill 35, 238, 240-41 
Hill 37, 258 

Hill 42, 283, 294, 296, 300, 30011 
Hill 43, 235, 281-83, 285-87, 290 
Hill 44, 235, 281-83, 285, 287—90, 298 
Hill 49, 258, 326-27 

Hill 50, 235, 261-62, 266, 270, 272, 283, 289, 294 

Hill 51, 235, 261-62, 266-68, 270, 272 

Hill 52, 235, 261—62, 265—70, 26711, 27011, 272—76 

Hill 53, 235, 261-62, 265-66, 270—78, 280, 323 

Hill 54, 235, 253, 261, 266—68, 271-72 

Hill 55, 235, 253, 262, 264, 266, 271-72 

Hill 56, 253, 264—65 

Hill 57, 235, 261-62, 264-65, 271-74, 276-78, 

325 
Hill 60, 258 
Hill 61, 258 
Hill 62, 258 

Hill 65, 128, 133, 253, 283 

Hill 66, 134, 203, 208-09, 2 2 3» 225, 228, 233, 253- 
54> 257-58, 260-65, 278-79, 319, 323» 
326—27 

Hill 67, 128, 143-44, 159, 165 
Hill 72, 134, 225 
Hill 75, 134, 204 
Hill 78, 205 

Hill 80, 134, 203, 206—08, 279 

Hill 81, 134, 203, 206—08, 279 

Hill 82, 206 

Hill 83, 134, 206-08 

Hill 87, 322-27 

Hill 87C, 323-25 

Hill 87F, 326 

Hill 87G, 325 

Hill 88, 322-23, 326-27, 332 
Hill 89, 322-23, 326-29 
Hill 90, 327-29 



Hill 91, 326, 329, 332 

Hill 92, 332 

Hill 94, 332 

Hill 95, 332 

Hill 97, 327, 329, 333 

Hill 98, 326—29, 332—34 

Hill 99, 326, 329, 332-34 

Hill 100, 329, 333 

Hill 102, 333 

Hill 103, 333-34 

Hill 105, 333-34 

Hill 106, 333-34 

Hill X, 323, 325 

Hill Y, 323, 325 

Hill Z, 323 

Hirohito, Emperor, 310 
Hiroyasu, Col. Toshiro, 166 

Hodge, Brig. Gen. John R., Assistant Commander 

25th Division, 257 
Hogan, Col. Daniel W., CO i82d Infantry, 202 
Holcomb, Lt. Gen. Thomas H., Commandant 

Marine Corps, 172 
Holding attacks, 129—31, 246, 249—50, 265, 323, 

325-26 

Hornet, 86n, 99, 101, 167—69 
Hospital ships, 31—32 
Hospitals, 28, 32, 141, 210 

admissions for malaria, 227 

Japanese, 229—30 

on Tulagi, 53 
Hovey, 142 

Howitzer battalions, 270 
Howitzers, 89, 97, 192, 300 

British, i74n 

Japanese, 148, 153, 155 

transportation of, 314 

75-mm. pack, 52, 57, 69-70, 75, 81, 89, 122, 

126, 148, 177, 199, 237-38, 249, 255, 258, 

262, 309, 314, 341, 348 
105-mm., 57, 69-70, 90, 1 17-18, 148-49, 183, 

237-38, 244, 249, 258, 260, 262, 298-99, 

30on, 309, 314 
155-mm., 89, 183, 238, 249, 255, 258, 262, 299, 

309 
3-inch, 250 
HUDDLE Operation, 32n 

Hudson Squadron, New Zealand Air Force, 33 
Hunt, Col. Le Roy P. t CO 5th Marines, 47, 52, 126 
Huon Peninsula, 167 

Hyakutake, Lt. Gen. Harukichi, 95, 95n, 137, 139, 
152, 154, 156-57, i6on, 165, 170, 177, 196, 



INDEX 



399 



Hyakutake, Lt. Gen. Harukichi — Continued 
200—02, 208—09, 228, 22811, 349 

Hydrographic charts. See Navy Hydrographic 
Charts. 



Ichiki, Col. Kiyono, 95, 95n, 97—99 
hhikj Force, 95-99, 104, 114, 119, 135, 138—39, 
228 

Illinois National Guard, 217 

Ilu River, 51, 53, 70—71. 89, 96—97, no— n, 117— 

18, 122, 144, 195, 197, 225 
Imamura, Gen. Hitoshi, 227-28, 337—38, 337n, 

349> 349« 
Imperial Army, 296n, 310 

Imperial General Headquarters, 5, 8, 137, 179, 227, 

336-38 
Imperial Navy, 137 

Inagaki, Ma}. Takeyosho, 228, 296, 303—05 
Indispensable Strait, 25, 167, 181—83 
Infantry battalions, 89, 95, 140, 143 
Infantry Battalions. See also Marine Infantry Bat- 
talions. 

1st, 27th Infantry, 261—62, 264—65, 270—71, 274, 

276-78, 323-29, 332-33 
2d, 27th Infantry, 262, 265, 270-78, 325, 327— 

29, 332-35. 333-35 
ist, 35th Infantry, 2,83-86, 289-90, 292 
2d, 35th Infantry, 281—85, 292-305 
3d, 35th Infantry, 281—92, 295 
ist, i^2d Infantry, 215, 237, 240—43, 245—50, 

252 

2d, i32d Infantry, 237—38, 241, 247—52, 343— 
48, 344n 

3d, I32d Infantry, 237—50, 24311, 252 
ist, 147th Infantry, 174, 330, 341—43 
3d, 147th Infantry, 175, 330, 34*-43 
ist, 161st Infantry, 258, 262, 272—73, 325, 327, 
346-48 

2d, 161st Infantry, 323, 325, 327, 346—48 
3d, 161st Infantry, 325, 327, 346—48 
ist, 164th Infantry, 195, 197-98, 200—02, 205— 
06 

2d, 164th Infantry, 164—65, 198—200 
3d, 164th Infantry, 161, 164—66, 198—99, 206, 
208 

ist, i82d Infantry, 183, 204—05, 330 
2d, i82d Infantry, 183, 203—06, 330 
3d, i82d Infantry, 180—81, 215, 257, 270, 281 — 
83> 293-94, 322n, 34on 
Infantry Battalions, Japanese. See Japanese units. 



Infantry Division, Americal. See Americal Division. 
Infantry Division, 25th, 173, 214, 241, 249, 252, 
255, 26on, 278, 280, 290, 306, 314, 319, 330— 
33. 335, 34<>> 34$ 
command and organization, 212—13, 218—19 
in attack on Galloping Horse, 255—60, 262—78 
in attack on Gifu strong point, 290—305 
in attack on Sea Horse, 281—89 
in second January offensive, 322—27 
landings on Guadalcanal, 217—18, 254 
strength on arrival in Guadalcanal, 219—20 
summary of losses, 350 
Infantry Division, 32d, 9 
Infantry Division, 37th, 22, 214 
Infantry Division, 41st, 9 
Infantry Division, 43d, 180, 212, 352—55 
Infantry Divisions, Japanese. See Japanese units. 
Infantry Regiments. See also Marine Regiments. 
27th (25th Division), 257-58, 257^ 261-62, 
266, 27on, 271, 278, 281-85, 290, 293, 298, 
320, 323-29, 332-35 
35th (25th Division), 252, 257-58, 262, 278, 
280—87, 290-95, 295n, 298, 299, 305, 323, 
34on 
47th, 213 

1 3 2d (Americal Division ) , 21 4—1 7, 235—4 1 , 

244-47, 249-50, 252-53, 255, 257, 2&1-83. 

290-92, 294, 343-44, 344". 346-48 
147th, 22, 142, 174, 198, 214, 223, 320, 322, 

33 -32, 340-44, 346 
161st (25th Division), 258, 262, 270, 278, 293, 

323, 325-27, 34on, 346-48 
164th (Americal Division), 141—46, 160—62, 

164—66, 180, 197—202, 206, 208-09, 215, 217, 

278 

i82d (Americal Division), 32, 180—81, 189, 
202—08, 215, 235, 255—57, 261—62, 270, 278, 
281, 293—94, 300, 322, 322n, 327, 330—32, 
340-41, 3 4 on, 344 

Infantry Regiments, Japanese. See Japanese units. 

Infantrymen, 165, 167, 244, 270, 276, 300, 303, 
307—09, 313, 325, 346—48, See also Riflemen. 

Infiltration, Japanese, 82, 89, 117, 240, 272, 283, 
296, 311, 341-42. 35i 

Insect repellent, use in jungle, 227 

Intelligence 

Allied, 15, 43—45, 50, 73, 92—93, loo, 112— 15, 
233-37, 257, 298, 310, 336, 338-40, 35°n, 
351-52 

Japanese, 93-95, 99, 311 
Isolation, of Japanese, 230 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Ito, Maj. Gen. Takeo, 138, 19611, 20a, 204, 228, 
2960, 3380 

Jackson, Col. Gilder T., CO 6th Marines, 254 

Jamestown, 142 

Japan 

American strategy against, 1—21 
offensive in Pacific, 3—4 
Japanese Command, reorganization in South Pa- 
cific, 227—28 
Japanese Navy, 8, 95. See also Naval forces, 
Japanese. 

Japanese strategy, 3—7, 137—39, 336-38 
Japanese tactics, 153-56, 311— 13 
Japanese troop strength. See Troop strength, 
Japanese. 

Japanese units. See also Ichi\i Force; Kawaguchi 
Force; Special Naval Landing Forces. 
1st Battalion, 4th Infantry, 132 
1st Battalion, 124th Infantry, 114, 118 
1 st Battalion, 228th Infantry, 153, 228 
2d Battalion, 4th Infantry, 114, 118— 19, 126 
2d Battalion, 28th Infantry, 95, 114, 119 
2d Battalion, 124th Infantry, 114, 119 
2d Battalion, 228th Infantry, 22$ 
2d Field Artillery Regiment, 153 
2d Independent Rapid Fire Gun Battalion, 153 
2d Infantry Division, 114, 126, 131, 138-39, 

i52-55» I53nj 203, 228, 279, 340» 349 
2d Mountain Artillery Battalion, 153 
3d Battalion, 4th Infantry, 131, i59n 
3d Battalion, 124th Infantry, 114, 118, i59n 
3d Battalion, 228th Infantry, 228 
3d Battalion, 229th Infantry, i86n 
3d Light Trench Mortar Battalion, 153 
4th Air Army, 337, 337n 
4th Fleet, 30 

4th Heavy Field Artillery Regiment, 138, 153 
4th Infantry Regiment, 114, 119, 126, 131, 134, 

138, i53» i57> i59n, 166 
5th Yokpsu\a Special Naval Landing Force, 95, 

99-100 

6th Independent Rapid Fire Gun Battalion, 153 

6th Infantry Division, 

yth Heavy Field Artillery Regiment, 153 

8th Area Army, 227, 337 

8th Fleet, 185 

gth Independent Rapid Fire Gun Battalion, 153 
10th Mountain Artillery Regiment, 237 
nth Air Fleet, 7 



16th Army, 138 

16th Infantry Regiment, 138, 152—53, 160, 
1 64-66 

1 yth Army, 5-7, 7n, 93~95, i35~3 8 > M^, 
152-54, i53n, 159, 167-69, 179, 190, 202-03, 
208, 214, 227-30, 254, 313, 335-37> 348-50, 
349n> 35on 

18th Army, 337 

18th Infantry Division, 112, ii9n 
20th Independent Mountain Artillery Regiment, 
153 

21 st Heavy Field Artillery Regiment, 153 
2$th Air Flotilla, 100 
28th Infantry Regiment, 95, 119 
29th Infantry Regiment, 138, 153, 160—62, 164— 
66 

35th Brigade, 95, 112 

38th Infantry Division, 138—39, 152, 154, 177— 
79, 183, 186, 202, 204, 228, 244, 261, 276, 
337, 349 

124th Infantry Regiment, 112—14, 118— 19, 153, 

i59n, 228, 237, 254, 296, 30on 
228th Infantry Regiment, 138, 153, 179, 228, 

237> 254, 261, 276, 30on 
229th Infantry Regiment, 138, 186, i86n 
230th Infantry Regiment, 138, 152—53, 179, 186, 

196, 196^ 261, 276 
Japanese weapons, 73, 97-99, 160, 186, 199, 240, 

243-44, 307. 313 
far vis, 77—78 

Jeeps, 142, 217, 225, 240—41, 254, 260, 283, 292, 

303, 314. See also Trucks. 
Johnson, Capt. H. H., Jr., 267—68, 272 
Johnston Island, 2 

Joint Chiefs of Staff, U. S., 1—3, 8—9, 15—19, 20—21, 
25-27, 30, 40, 108, 167, 172, 212, 349-50 
Joint Directive for Operations in SWPA, 16—19 
Juneau, 185 

Jungle warfare, 70, 89, 96, 114— 18, 143—44, 154- 
55, 161-62, 164-65, 198, 204—05, 229, 238- 
39, 243—49. See also Attacks; Defense; En- 
velopment; Offense. 

artillery dispositions, 258 

clothing for, 58, 316-17 

control of disease, 43, 49—50, 141 

defensive .positions, 243—44, 252 

employment of mules, 314 

evacuation of casualties, 241, 249, 260 

night attacks, 160-61, 164—65, 235, 251, 274- 
75, 275n, 329 

poor visibility, 294, 303 



INDEX 



401 



Jungle warfare — Continued 
rations for, 316 

supply problems, 240, 258-60, 288-89 
tactical problems, 306 
tank attacks, 293^ 296n, 303—05, 309 
training in, 311, 317—18 
transportation problems, 204, 313—16 
Jurney, Lt. Col. Claude E., 261, 265, 323-26, 327 

Kahili, 5, 152 
Kahp, 80 

Kamimbo Bay, 343, 345, 348 
Kavieng, 4, 33~34> 

Kawaguchi, Maj. Gen. Kiyotake, 95, 1 14-15, 153- 
54, 200 

Kawaguchi Force, 95, 95n, 112-15, 117—19, I2 6, 
135—39, I 6o, 228- See also Japanese units, 
35th Brigade. 

Kieta, 5, 30, 86 

King, Admiral Ernest J., COMINCH, 3, 9-12, 15- 

19, 22, 27-28, 82, 140, 172 
Kinkaid, Rear Adm. Thomas C, 167, 172, 180-81, 

185, 186 
Kinugasa, 147 
Kirishima, 183, 186-88 
Klerk, Emery de, 319-20 
Knee mortars. See Grenade dischargers. 
Knives, for close fighting, 307 
Kocorana, 344 
Kokomtambu, 67 

Kokumbona, 90—91, 95, 111, 114, 119, 126—31, 
133, 148, 153—55, 165—66, 179, 181, 190—209, 
2 33> 254, 2 58, 260, 280, 298, 319-20, 323, 
325-35* 338, 340, 346 

Kokumbona beaches, 190, 333 

Kokumbona River, 329 

Koli Point, 38, 45, 51, 61, 119, 165 i75~79> J 95~ 
200, I96n, 214, 217, 222—23, 33°» 343> 35 2- 
55 

Kongo, 149 
Koro, 55, 59 

Kukum, 30, 6i, 73, 89, 91, 115, 122, 128, 148, 

162, 190, 222, 320, 344—45 
Kukum Beach, 39, 148 
Kusaka, Vice Adm. Jinichi, 338 



Lae, 4, 7, 10, 12-13, I 7> 20, 34 
Laffey, 185 

Landing beaches, 38—39, 50—51, 61, 103, 127. See 



also Landings. 

defense of, 87—89 

Guadalcanal, 44 

Kokumbona, 190, 333 

Russell Islands, 352—55 
Landing craft, 38, 61—62, 67—69, 75—77, 92, 128— 
29, 199, 233, 320, 333, 343-44> 35i-54> 35^ 

Japanese, 111— 12, 139, i96n, 200, 335, 348 

LCM, 40, 57-58, 354 

LCP, 40, 57, 354 

LCT, 345, 354-55 

LCV, 40, 57. 354 
Landing force, Task Force 65, 122 
Landing Force Group, Amphibious Force, 36-37 
Landing forces, 47, 175, 343, 352, 355 
Landings, American. See also Unloading. 

Florida Island, 61 

Guadalcanal, 67-71, 75, 8i, 101, 122-23, 128- 
29, 140-42, 169, 175, 180—83, 217-18, 344- 
45 

maps for, 45 

of supplies, 104, 206, 344—45 

plans for, 19—20, 31, 38-40, 50-54, 57~58 

provision of troops for, 27 

Russell Islands, 352-56 

Tanambogo-Gavutu, 65-67 

Tulagi, 61-63, 75, 8i, no 
Landings, Japanese, 95—96, 105, 112— 14, 139, 146, 

151-52, 170, 179, 195-96, 343 
Lansdowne , 197 

Larsen, Lt. Col. Stanley R., 22gn, 296, 2g6n, 305 
Lavoro, 344 
Lavoro Passage, 343 
Leadership, problems of, 307 
Leander, 147 

Lee, Rear Adm. Willis A., Jr., 186 

Leer, Lt. Col. James B., 283, 287, 289 

Leggings, use in jungle, 317 

Lengo Channel, 25 

Lexington, 170 

Liaison, air control, 71, 309 

Liaison planes, 39, 69, 6gn y 71, 131 

Libra, 181-83 

Line of communications 

to Australia, 1—3, 8> 83, 135, 350 

to Guadalcanal, 79, 104, no, 139, 169 

to Pacific Theater, 1-3, 22 

Line of departure, 38, 69, 132, 153, 155, 157, 
190, 203—04, 266, 283—86 

Line of resistance, 126 

Litter bearers, 241, 249, 260 



402 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Litters, 260, 314 

Little, 104, no 

"Little Burma Road," 87 

Loading. See also Unloading. 

of supplies, 48-50* 344. 354 

ot troops, 48—50, 354 
Logistics, 75, 125. See also Supply. 

American situation, 223—27 

for occupation of Russell Islands, 355 

Japanese situation, 230 

methods on Guadalcanal, 313—18 

planning for, 31, 43, 45-50 
Long Island, 86 
Lorengau, 33 

"Louie the Louse." See Nuisance attacks, Japa- 
nese planes. 
Loyalty Islands, 9 

Lunga airfields, 51, 93, 107, 120, 141, 270, 336. 

See also Henderson Field. 
Lunga area, 37, 100, 129, 134, 143-44, 180, 189, 

195, 246, 337, 345-46 
Lunga perimeter, 129, 152, 195, 199—200, 202, 

212, 223, 237, 241, 252, 278, 285, 292, 322, 

341 

Lunga Point, 30, 37~39> 45, 49, 5*. 53> ^7. 7*> 
83, 89-93, 95> I0 3, io 5» iq 8, no— 11, 114, 
116, 123-26, 129-31, 134-37, 139-40, 142, 
151, 154, 162, 167, 174, 177, 180—81, 186, 
214, 222, 232-35, 238, 323 

Lunga River, 7, 70-73, 89, 92, 103, 105, n 5-1 6, 
119, 122, 132, 144, 147, 154—56, 159—60, 
164, 174, 188, 195—97, 228, 233, 241, 254- 
55» 357-58, 292 

MacArthur, Gen. Douglas, CINCSWPA, 12, 14- 
17, I5n, 22, 33, 43-44, 108, 137, 152, 173, 
212 

assumes command of SWPA, 2-3 

plans for Pacific offensive, 8-10, 19— 20 
MacFarland, 33, 104, 123, 151 
MacGowan, Lt. Col. Francis F., 204—05 
Machetes, use in jungle, 313 
Machine-gun emplacements, 126, 251 
Machine-gun fire 

American, 63—65, 92, 97, 117, 133-34, I *>4> 
200, 243, 293-94 

Japanese, 97, 164, 235, 239, 245-46, 261, 266- 
68, 275, 279, 323, 326, 332 
Machine gunners 

American, 286, 344 

Japanese, 238, 266—67, 274, 287, 296, 341 



Machine guns, 208, 217, 268, 273^ 274, 286, 

289, 3°3> 333 
emplacements for, 126, 251 
heavy, 70, 73, 162, 273 

Japanese, 155, 160, 195, 198-99* 243-44, 251, 
254, 265, 267-73, 276-79, 290, 294, 300- 
03, 305, 33^ 341-42, 348 

light, 285-86, 290 

Reising, 307 

Thompson, 307 

.25<aliber, 73 

.30-caliber, 87-89 

.45-caliber, 307 

.50-caliber, 89, 309 

.303-caliber, 73 
Mackinac, 33 

Main effort, 250, 323, 325 
Makambo, 52-53, 67 
Malaita, 17, 25, 31, 82, 92 
Malaria, 222, 313, 3460 

among Japanese troops, 159, 229 

casualties from, 141, 155, 209—12, 217, 225—27, 
249, 252, 294 

control of, 43, 225—27, 318 

use of ata brine for, 141, 227, 318 
Malaya, 8, 2in, 95 
Manchuria, 138 
Maps 

inadequacy of, 45, 70-71, 298, 309, 334 

interpretation of, 43 

Japanese, 156 
Marcus Islands, 170 
Marianas. Islands, 2 
Marine Air Group 14, 173, 221 
Marine Air Group 23, 86, 148 
Marine Air Group 25, 87 
Marine Air Group 142, 173 
Marine air squadrons, 25—27 
Marine Air Wings 

1st, 86, 131, 142, 144, 183, 192, 221 

2d, 221, 255, 264, 278, 332, 340 
Marine Air Base, San Diego, Calif., 41 
Marine Battalions. See also Marine Field Artillery 
Battalions; Marine Infantry Battalions. 

1 st Amphibian Tractor Battalion, 57 

2d Amphibian Tractor Battalion, 81 

3d Defense Battalion, 27, 36, 41, 51-55, 75, 
81, 90, 105, 125, 144, 148, 162, 188, 192 

5th Defense Battalion, 107, 120, 140, 174, 177, 
i77n, 180 

9th Defense Battalion, 175, 223 



INDEX 



4°3 



Marine Battalions— Continued 
nth Defense Battalion, 354 
14th Defense Battalion, i77n 
1st Engineer Battalion, 83, 192, 316 
2d Engineer Battalion, 215 
1st Parachute Battalion, 47, 52-53, 55, 65-67, 

in, 123 
1st Pioneer Battalion, 75, 115-16 
1st Raider Battalion, 41, 51-54, 61-65, 110-12, 

126—28, 133, 142 
2d Raider Battalion, 174-75, 197-98* 200, 343 
3d Raider Battalion, 354 
Marine Corps, 22, 32, 41, 172, 221, 223, 238, 

303, 306, 35P 
Marine Division 1st, 10-13, 16-17, 22, 28, 30, 
43—45, 6gn, 73, 93, 95, 100, 120, i28n, 139, 
141, 148, 217, 225, 310, 336 
action on Matanikau River, 125-34, 156—59 
awarded Presidential Unit Citation, 210 
combat groups and teams, 47—49, 51-54 
command and organization, 41, 45-47, 51-53 
Florida Group, 52 
Gavutu Group, 52 

Guadalcanal Group, 37, 51, 60—61 

in advance toward Kokumbona, 190—209 

in Bloody Ridge action, 11 6-1 8 

in Japanese October counterofTensive, 156—67 

landings on Guadalcanal, 67-70, 75 

Northern Group, Landing Force, 37 

priority for combat transport, 58 

rehearsal on Fiji Islands, 55 

reinforcements for, 52, 58, 80, 103, 119, 125, 

139, 141-42 
relief of, 212—14 

role in general plan, 36—37, 39—43 
summary of losses, 350 

supply for, 58, 75, 79-81, 101-04, 123, 142 
Tulagi Group, 52, 54 

Marine Division, 2d, 322 

command and organization, 218, 254 

in first January offensive, 254-55, 254^ 261- 

62, 264-65, 278-80, 295n 
landings on Guadalcanal, 218 
role in forming CAM Division, 322n, 330 
role in general plan, 27, 140, 174—75, 2I 4 
strength on arrival in Guadalcanal, 219—20 
summary of losses, 350 

Marine Field Artillery Battalions 
1 st, 10th Marines, 177 

id, 10th Marines, 237, 255, 258, 262, 341, 346 
3d, 10th Marines, 52, 75, 81, 249, 251 



1st nth Marines, 122, 126, 131, 208 
2d, nth Marines, 69, 89-92, 131, 208 
3d, nth Marines, 69, 89-92, 97, 131, 200 
4th, nth Marines, 47 

5th, nth Marines, 69, 89—92, 116— 18, 131, 200, 

238 

Marine Fighting Squadron 212, 33 
Marine Fighting Squadron 223, 86 
Marine Infantry Battalions 

1st, 1 st Marines, 69, 73, 97 

2d, 1st Marines, 69, 96-97 

3d, 1st Marines, 69, 118, 131, 144, 156-57, 160, 
192 

1st, 2d Marines, 52, 61, 192-97, 199-200, 208, 

253, 257, 257n 
2d, 2d Marines, 52, 67, 192, 195, 200 
3d, 2d Marines, 52, 67, no, 131, 160, 190-92, 

195, 200 

1st, 5th Marines, 53, 69-73, no-11 

2d, 5th Marines, 53, 62-67, 69, 75, 115-16, 

127-29, 131, 192-95 
3d, 5th Marines, 53, 69-70, 118, 132-33, 195 
2d, 6th Marines, 332 
3d, 6th Marines, 332 

1st, 7th Marines, 126—29, 134, 160—61, 164, 166 
2d, 7th Marines, 134, 159-60, 164-65, 192, 195, 
197-99 

3d, 7th Marines, 144, 159—60, 190, 198 
Marine Observation Squadron 251, 33 
Marine Regiments 

1st (1st Marine Division), 40, 47, 53, 69-71, 89, 

93. 95^97. H5> "8, 131. M4 156-57. 160, 

165, 192, 203 
2d (2d Marine Division), 27, 40—41, 51—52, 

54, 61, 65-67, 77, 8i, 103, 120, 131, 140, 

160, 190—95, 200—02, 214—15, 253, 254n, 

257, 261, 278-79, 322, 330 
5th (1st Marine Division), 40-41, 47, 53-54, 

62-65, 69-71, 75, 89, 92, 1 1 5-1 6, 1 1 8-1 9, 

126-34, M4> I 6'4, 190-97, 203, 213 
6th (2d Marine Division), 218, 254, 278-79, 

322, 322n, 330-34, 340-41 
7th (1st Marine Division), 22, 36, 40-41, 58, 

120—23, 125, 126-34, I44> 159-61, 164—66, 

190-92, 195-99 
8th (2d Marine Division), 140, 174-75, 177, 

180, 197, 198—99, 200—02, 204—05, 208, 

214, 235, 262, 264-65, 278-80, 322, 330 
10th (2d Marine Division), 52, 75, 81, 177, 

237, 249, 251-52, 258, 262, 341, 344n, 346 
nth (1st Marine Division), 40, 47, 53—54, 69- 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



404 

Marine Regiments — Continued 

70, 89—92, 97, 116—18, 122, 126, 131, 134, 
144, 157, 159, 161, 183, 190-92, 200, 208, 
238 

Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 232, 86 
"Marine Trail/' 253, 262, 283 
Marorovo, 345-46 

Marshal], Gen. George C, C of S, U. S. Army f 
3, 27, 82, 86, 218 
plans for Pacific offensive, 9—19 
views on Guadalcanal campaign, 172—73, 217 
Marshall Islands, 2, 30, 170 
Marston, Maj. Gen. John, CG 2d Marine Divi- 
sion, 254n 
Marukatno, 147 

Maruyama, Lt. Gen. Masao, 153, 155—60, i6on, 
162, 164, 166, 228, 228n 

Maruyama Trail, 154, 240, 241 

Matanikau, 119, 126, 128, 179 

Matanikau River, 44-45, 90-92, 125-34, 137, 
139, 143, 149, 153-54* 156-57, i59-6o, 
190, 192—93, 202—06, 209, 214, 217, 223, 
225, 228, 232-35, 239, 253-54, 257-58, 
260-62, 265, 270, 273, 278, 281-83, 285- 
86, 290, 294, 295n, 296, 305, 322—23, 326— 
27 

Materiel, 65, 97—99, 101, 174—77, 200, 254. See 
also Equipment; Supply. 

Matting, for airfields, 85, 162, 221-22 

"Maytag Charlie." See Nuisance attacks, Japa- 
nese planes. 

Mbangai, 67 

McCain, Rear Adm. John S., COMAIRSOPAC, 
28-29, 32-35, 45, 83-85, 104, 108, 221 

McCawley, 37—38, 79, 123, 142, 183 

McCIure, Col. Robert B., CO 35th Infantry, 257, 
281—83, 287, 292, 296—300, 30on, 305 

McCulloch, Col. William A., CO 27th Infantry, 
257-58, 261—62, 268, 272, 327 

Meade, 188 

Mechanics, airplane, 87 

Medal of Honor, awards of, 276, 286 

Medical aid men, 241 

Medical battalions, 47 

Medical Battalion, 25th, 260 

Medical Regiment, 101st, 215, 241 

Medical supplies, 58, 240 

Medical troops, 47, 52, 75, 139, 183, 260, 320, 
344n 

Medium Bombardment Squadron, 70th, 221 
Medium bombers, 172 



Melanesians, in Solomon Islands, 25. See also 
Natives. 

Melbourne, Australia, 19, 43, 78, 215 
Mellichamp, Capt. Paul K„ 274 
Mess equipment, 48, 316 
Messages, verbal, 267 
Metapona, 346 

Metapona River, 195, 199, 202, 336 
Middle East, British forces in, 16 
Midway, 5, 9—10 

Midway, Battle of, 20-21, 83, 100, 146, 170, 173 
Military Police Company, 39th, 215 
Mindanao, 112 
Mine layers, 142 

Mines, 6i, 69, 143, 212, 309, 342 
Minesweeper Group, Amphibious Force, 36 
Minesweepers, 38-39, 6i, 80, 122, 352-55 
Missionaries, in Solomon Islands, 24, 319 
Mitchell, Lt. Col. Herbert V„ 262, 270, 272-75, 

27 5 n, 276, 325, 333 
Miyazaki, Maj. Gen. Shuicho, 7n, 95, 135, i6on, 

337 
Moa, 353 
Mobile Air Forces 

Pacific Ocean Areas, 27 
Southwest Pacific Area, 27 
Mobile Combat Reconnaissance Squadron, Ameri- 
cal Division, 215-17, 241, 253, 255-57, 
261-62, 265-66, 330 
Monssen, 185 

Moore, Col. Bryant E., CO 164th Infantry, 144 

Mopping-up operations, 278 

Morale 

American, 49, 246, 318 

Japanese, 244, 311 
Mortar fire 

American, 117, 134, 1 62, 190—92, 198, 244, 
275 

Japanese, 200, 235, 251, 261, 266, 272, 279, 
323-25 

Mortars, 70, 134, 217, 271, 289, 292, 294-95, 
303, 307, 326 
heavy, 117 

Japanese, 97, 128, 155, 160, 196, 199, 205-08, 
251, 254, 267-68, 271-72, 273^ 305, 313, 
342, 348 

60-mm., 8, 164, 245, 251, 268, 294, 309 
81-mm., 89, 162, 164, 252, 27on, 271—72, 274, 

294, 298, 309 
1 5- mm., 270 
Mosquito nets, use in jungle, 318 



INDEX 



405 



Motor barges, 283 

Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3, 142 

Motor Transport, 48-49, 73, 92, 101-03, i2 °j 

122—23, 206, 225, 258-60, 276. See also 

Trucks. 

Mount Austen, 44, 53, 70-71, 119, 126-27, 154, 
*59> 1 65—66, 202, 204, 209, 225, 228—29, 
239^ 243, 246-47, 252, 253-55, 257-58, 
280-85, 287-89, 323 

artillery disposition on, 237—38 

December attack on, 232—52 

evacuation of casualties, 260 

Japanese defenses on, 235-37 

plan of attack, 232-33 

reduction of Gifu strong point, 290-305, 296n 
terrain, 233-35 
Mug ford, 77 

Mulcahy, Brig. Gen. Francis P., CG 2d Marine 

Air Wing, 221, 322 
Mules, employment in jungles, 314, 3410 
Mullen, Lt. Col. William J., Jr., 281-83, 285-89 
Munda Point, 337, 351 

Nakaguma, Col. Tadamasu, 131 
Nalimbiu River, 147, 198 
Nasu, Maj. Gen. Yumio, 153-54, 166 
Native labor, 103, 225, 235, 262, 283, 288, 319- 
20 

Native scouts, 93, in, 115 

Natives, in Solomon Islands, 25, 43, 92 

Natsugumo, 147 

Naval Advanced Base, Kukum, 148 
Naval attacks 

American, 52-53, 60-61, 67,. 146—47, 167-69, 
184-86 

Japanese, 78-80, 8in, 82, 90, 99-roo, 103, 
105, no, 146-47, 149, 162, 166, 172, 1 83— 
85, 189, 210—12 

Naval base units, 352 

Naval bases, 32, 190 

Naval boat detachments, 192 

Naval carrier squadrons, 148 

Naval construction battalions, 148, 151, 175, 223 
Naval Construction Battalions 

6th, no 

1 8th, 175, 215 
Naval construction forces, 5, 140, 174, 222 
Naval fire support, 27, 38-39, 53, 61-63, 69, 
78-79, 81, 128-29, 152, 172, 192—93, 210, 

33 2 > 354 
Naval forces 



Allied, 5, 8, 10-12, 15—19, 20, 27-29, 34, 85, 
99-101, 122, 167, 179, 202, 220, 230, 232, 

336, 338, 343, 352-53 
Japanese, 12, 20, 33, 37, 99—100, 120, 122, 

146, 162, 167, 179, 183-89, 336, 350i 355 
Naval gunfire liaison teams, 38 
Naval task forces, 17, 180-81. See also Task 

Forces. 

Navy, Japanese, 8, 95. See also Naval forces, 
Japanese. 

Navy, U. S., 15, 22, 170, 180, 189, 220—21, 223, 
313, 322, See also Naval attacks, American; 
Naval fire support; Naval forces, Allied, 
aircraft, 221-22 
Battle of Savo Island, 80 
monographs on Solomons, 43 
plans for Solomons operation, 10-16 
role in campaign, 28 
Navy Hydrographic Charts 
No. 2658, 45 
No. 2916, 45 
Navy patrol bombers, 32—33, 83. See also Bom- 
bardment planes. 
Ndeni, 28, 30—31, 33, 40, 54, 103, 120, 139-42, 174 
Nelson, Col. LeRoy E., CO i32d Infantry, 237, 
241-43 

Neuroses, casualties from, 209-10 
Neville, 38 

New Britain, 4, 9—10, 13, 17, 30 

New Caledonia, 2-3, 5-8, 12, 16, 22-24, 2 7> 3 2_ 33» 

54, 87, 135, 141, 173, 180, 213, 215-17 
New Georgia, 24-25, 33, 82, 92, 167, 185, 337—38, 

35i 

New Guinea, 4, 7-8, 9-13, 14, 17, 24, 33, 37, 44, 

112, 120, 135, 137, 140, 154, 167, 336-37 
New Hebrides, 3, 7, 9, 20, 22, 31-32, 86, 167, 

180, 223 
New Ireland, 4, 7, 9, 12—13, 17 
New River, N. C, Marine units at, 40 
New Zealand, 1—3, 10, 16, 19, 22, 41, 44—45, 

48—50, 55, 83, 180, 218 
New Zealand Air Force. See Royal New Zealand 

Air Force. 
Nggela Channel, 25 
Nggela Island. See Florida Island. 
Nicobar Islands, 9 

Night attacks, 160-61, 164-65, 235, 251, 274-75, 
275n, 329 

Nimitz, Admiral Chester W., CINCPOA, 10-12, 
14-19, 36, 82, 108, 152, 167, 172, 351 
in command of Pacific Ocean Areas, 3 



406 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Nimitz, Admiral Chester W. — Continued 
plans for Pacific offensive, 9, 19, 22, 25-28 
recommends occupation of Ndeni, 139-4° 
Nonbattle casualties, 43, 141, 199, 209-12, 225-27, 

229, 246, 252, 294, 313 
North Carolina, 34, ioi, 152 
North Pacific Area, 3-4 
Northern Group, Landing Force, 37 
Noumea, 7, 23, 31-33, 35, 78, 80, 85-87, 93, 
103-04, 142, 177, 180-81, 185, 215, 217-18, 
352 

Noumea Harbor, 172 

Noyes, Rear Adm. Leigh, Commander Air Support 

Force, 34 
Nueha River, 320, 341 
Nugu Point, 343-44 
Nuisance attacks, Japanese planes, 222 

O'Bannon, 227 

Observation planes, 32, 37, 39, 61 
Observation posts, 93, 1 15-16, 233, 290, 326, 344, 
355 

Observers, 117, 233, 298-99, 309, 325 
OfTense. See also Attacks; Offensives. 

active, 340—41 

artillery tactics, 309 

Japanese methods, 311 
Offensives, 126—34, x 35 

December, 232-52 

in Pacific areas, 1— 21 

January, 253-305* 3*9-35 

Japanese, 156—66, 203—04, 230—31 

limited, 1, 8, 

November, 223 

plans of XIV Corps, 246—47 

tactical principles, 306-07 

toward Kokumbona, 190—209 
Oka, Col. Akinosuka, 11 2-1 4, 11 8, 159-60, 1590, 

165-66, 237, 243, 286, 294, 296-98, 296n 
Ontong Java, 33 
Operation Orders 

CTF 61 No. 1—42, 35n 

1st Marine Division No. 5—42, 47n 

1st Marine Division No. 6-42, 470 

1st Marine Division No. 7—42, 44n, 5on, 54n, 
37n 

1st Marine Division No. 12-42, I44n 
1st Marine Division No. 13-42, ip2n 
Operation Plans 

COMAIRSOPAC No. 1-42, 3 2n, 35n 



COMAMPHIBSOPAC No. A3-42, 400 

COMSOPAC No. 1-42, 32n 
Operations Division, WDGS, 12-14 
Organization 

Allied forces in Pacific, 1-8 

Americal Division, 172, 215-17, 218 

amphibious forces, 57 

landing forces, 45 

1st Marine Division, 41, 47, 51—53 

2d Marine Division, 218, 254 

25th Division, 212, 218 

XIV Corps, 218-19 
Orndorff, Col. Clarence A., CO 161st Infantry, 

258, 346n 
Outposts, 320, 355 

Pacific Fleet, U.S., 15, 29, 35, 167, 170 

Pacific Islands Year Book* 43 

Pacific Ocean Areas, 1—4, 3n, 13—14, 27 

Pacific Ocean Areas Mobile Air Force, 27 

Pacific Theater of Operations, 25—27 

Pack howitzers. See Howitzers. 

Packs, use in jungle, 70 

Paddy Bay, 354~55 

"Pagoda," the, 90 

Palau Islands, 4, 95, 112 

Palmyra, 2 

Papuan Peninsula, 4, 135 

Parachute Battalion, 1st, 47, 52-53, 55-57, 65-67, 
in, 123 

Parachute troops, 111— 12, 115— 17 
Parachutes, 288, 294-95 
Passage of lines, 208, 334, 340-41, 346-48 
Patch, Maj. Gen. Alexander M-, CG XIV Corps, 
172, 217-18, 225, 254n, 330, 351 

assumes command of XIV Corps, 218 

biographical sketch, 213 

plans for coastal offensive, 278—79 

plans for January offensives, 254-57, 319—23, 326 

plans for seizure of Mount Austen, 235-38, 
246-47 

pursuit of retreating Japanese, 336, 338—41, 343, 
346 

reports victory on Guadalcanal, 348 
responsibility for tactical operations, 213—15, 

232-33 
Patrol boats, no 

Patrol planes, 20, 32-33* 7*. 83* 99> i5*> i<>7» 
186, 221 

Patrols, 71, 126-28, 198, 245, 252-53, 261, 266, 



INDEX 



407 



Patrols — Continued 

278, 287, 301-03, 318, 332, 34 I ~42, 345-46, 
354-55 

air, 151—52, 156, 183, 203, 220 

combat, 120, 144, 228, 239—40, 254, 273, 

29 2 -95» 323*25 
contact, 265, 270, 334 
Japanese, 165, 240, 250, 341 
reconnaissance, 43, 91-93, 115, 129, 134, 156, 
159-60, 223, 235, 238, 246-47, 255*57, 
285-86, 289, 310, 319-20, 353-54 
Patterson, 78 
Pavuvu, 354—55 

Pearl Harbor, 3, 19, 27, 31, 36, 54-55, 86, 99, 

101, 152, 170, 212, 217, 255 
Penetration, Japanese, 162, See. also Infiltration. 
Pepper, Col. Robert H., 52, 125 
Perimeter, of Japanese bases, 4 
Perimeter defense, 71, 125, 127, 132, 141, 143, 

159-64, 175, 192, 195. 223, 237-39, 243. 

245, 247, 252-53, 255, 285, 289, 330, 334-35 
PESTILENCE Operation, 32n 
Peters, Lt. Col. Ernest, 292, 296n 
Philippine Islands, 2, 8, 2 in, 23, 112, 137-38, 

255 

Photographic reconnaissance, 43, 45, 70, 235, 257, 

261, 266, 281, 285, 310, 323, 334, 338-40 
Photographic Reconnaissance Group, 17th, 340 
Photographs, aerial. See Photographic reconnais- 
sance. 

Pile drivers, improvised by engineers, 316 
Pillboxes, Japanese, 237, 243—45, 244n, 293—94, 

298, 301—03 
Pioneer battalions, 47, 54, 70, 89, 125 
Pioneer Battalion, 1st, 75, 115 
Pioneers, 47, 52, 70, 75—77, 10 3» l *5—*7> 22 5> 

295, 320 

"Pistol Pete." See Artillery, Japanese. 
Pistols, 275-76 

automatic .45 -caliber, 249, 307 

Japanese, capture of, 290, 305 
Planning, 41-43, 82, 140-41 

air and naval, 27—40 

advance on Kokumbona, 190—92, 203 

attack on Gifu strong point, 296 

attack on Mount Austen, 233, 237-38 

attack on Sea Horse, 281-83 

capture of Hill 27, 246-49 

coastal offensive, 278-79 

final attack, 340-41 

Guadalcanal invasion, 22-35 



invasion of Russell Islands, 354 
January offensives, 254-55, 319-26 
Japanese, 137, 153-54, i77~79, 326 
logistical, 27-28, 31-32, 45-50 
Pacific offensive, 1-21 
tactical, 32-34, 43> 45» 5°~54, 3°9, 354 
Poha River, 129, 133, 190-92, 202, 217, 319-20, 

332-34, 340-4 1 » 34<>n 
Point Cruz, 91, 128-31, 134, 157, 192-96, 200, 
203, 205-08, 214, 223, 225, 228, 233, 253- 
54, 260-61, 278-79, 280, 305, 319, 322, 
327. 330, 340 
Pontons, amphibious tractors used as, 70 
Port Moresby, 4-5, 10, 12-13, 33, 135, 137 
Porter, 169 
Portland, 185 
Post exchange supplies, 48 
President Adams, 183 
President Coolidge, 212 
President Jackson, 183 

Presidential Unit Citation, awards of, 210, 217 
Prime movers, 70, 75, 103 

Prisoners of war, Japanese, 93, 99, 279, 290, 305, 

3'io-n, 340 
Propaganda leaflets, 310-11 

Protectorate Government, Solomon Islands, 93 
Provisional Marine Brigade, ist, 40 
Psychological warfare, 298-99, 30on, 310-11 
Puller, Lt. Col. Lewis B., 126-29, I 34, 160-61, 
199 

Pursuit, of Japanese at end of campaign, 340— 49 
Pursuit planes. See Fighter planes. 
"Pusha Maru," boat line, 283, 288-89 



Quartermaster Regiment, ioist, 215 
Quartermaster stores, 123 
Quincy, 37, 78, 80 
Quinine, scarcity of, 227 

Rabaul, 4-5, 7, 9-10, 12-14, 16-17, 20-21, 2 in, 
30, 34-35. 37, 78, 80, 81, 92-95> 99-ioo» 
105, 120, 137-39, M6» ^2, 154, 167, 179, 
i96n, 227, 230, 296n, 336-38, 349-5° 
Radar, 78, 81, 90, 105, 147, 184, 186, 355 
for planes, 222 
Japanese, 73, 335, 342 
SCR 268, 107 
SCR 270, 107 
Radio, 38, 78, 147, 196-97. 2 35» 3°9» 323-25* 



408 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Radio — Continued 

343-44 

ground-to-air, 39, 131 

Japanese, 112, 159, 342 

reports from coastwatchers, 44-45, 92 

SCR I93> 317 

SCR 194, 317 

SCR 195, 317 

SCR 284, 317 

SCR sii, 317 

SCR 536, 267^ 317 
Radio silence, 60, 355 
Radio stations, 28, 38, 53, 83, 93 
Raider companies, 62-67, 111-12, 117, 133 
Raider-Parachute Battalion, m-12, 1 15-18 
Raiders, 62-67, m-12, 115-17, 126-29, 133, 200 
Rains 

effect on operations, 133, 303 
effect on roads, 225, 240 
Ralph Talbot, 78, 80 

Rations, 47-48, ioi, 125, 142, 181, 196-97, 344 t 
355 

description of types, 316 
hand-carrying of, 204, 240, 254, 320 
Japanese, 73, 119, 155, 188, 196-97, 229, 237, 

294, 296 
priority for, 58 
shortages of, 81, 348 
supply problems, 258-60, 289 
unloading of, 122—23 
Reconnaissance, 13, 15, 43, 285, 343, 353 

aerial, 31, 33-34* 43~45> 7°> 8l > 93. 99. I20 > 

129, 144, 154-55. 203, 221, 235, 257, 261, 

266, 310, 323, 334, 338—40 
photographic, 43, 45, 70, 235, 257, 261, 266, 

281, 285, 310, 323, 334> 338-40 
reconnaissance in force, 238, 255^ 292 
Reconnaissance patrols. See Patrols, reconnaissance. 
Reconnaissance planes, 12, 179 
Reconnaissance Squadron, Americal Division. 

215-17, 240, 253, 255-57, 261-62, 265-66, 

330 

Reconnoitering, 294—96. See also Reconnaissance. 
Recreational facilities, shortages of, 212 
Red Beach, Russeli Islands, 354 
Reefs. See Coral Reefs. 
Regimental Combat Teams 

27th, 218 

35th, 218 

103d, 352-55 

T32d, 214 



1 61 st, 218 
169th, 352, 355 
i72d, 212, 352, 355 
i82d, 183 

Regiments. See Infantry Regiments; Marine Regi- 
ments; Japanese units. 

Registration of fire, 70, 97, 116-17, 260, 267^ 
3ii 

Rehearsal, 1st Marine Division, 28, 30, 43, 55-57 
Reinforcements, 133, 174, 180-83, 189, 219-20, 
294 

air, 152, 173 

airborne, 85 

Japanese, 13, 133, 137, 146, 190, 209n, 230, 

244, 294 
naval, 17 

1st Marine Division, 51-52, 58, 80-81, 103, 
119-25, 139, MO-43 
Reinhart, Brig. Gen. Stanley E., Artillery Com- 
mander 25th Division, 257 
Reising guns, 307 
Rekata Bay, 30, 86, 351 
Renard Sound, 353—54 
Rennell Island, 24, 59, 137, 146 
Reorganization 

American forces, 218—19 

Japanese command, 227—28 
Repair boats, 57 

Replacements, Japanese, 112, 185—86, 338 
Reserve 

1st Marine Division, 52, 54, 65, 97, 1 15-16, 

125, 161, 192 
XIV Corps, 442n 
Resident Commissioner, British Solomon Islands, 
24 

Reverse slopes, 206, 209, 270, 273 
Richards, Lt. Col. Frank C, 195 
Rifle fire 

American, 117, 133-34, 200 > 2 9 2 
Japanese, 89, 92, 116, 245, 249, 261, 279, 289 
Riflemen 

American, 89, 250, 254, 286, 296, 303, 344 
Japanese, 165, 238, 240, 243, 249, 251, 254, 267, 
271-73. 318, 3 2 7, 334> 34i 
Rifles, 96, 217, 241, 276 
automatic, 217, 309 

Japanese, 73, 161, 198, 251, 267, 271-72, 276, 

290, 305, 3°7> 3 I 3> 342 
Mi (Garand), 249, 251, 307 
M1903 (Springfield), 307 
,25<aHber, 73, 307 



INDEX 



"Ringbolt," 3211, 140 
Ripstra, Lt. Col. Earl F., 237 

River crossings, 71-73, 92, 128, 133-34, 143, 159, 

192—93, 198, 204, 342 
Road blocks, 329 
Roads, 28, 103, 203 

construction of, 193, 225, 253, 278, 319, 356 

logistical problems, 313-16 

road nets, 225, 254, 319 

scarcity in Solomons, 43, 198 
Rockets, 117 

Roholt, Capt. Oliver A., 266-67 
Roosevelt, President Franklin D., 2, 172 
Royal New Zealand Air Force, 32, 221—22 
Rupertus, Brig. Gen. William H., Assistant Com- 
mander 1st Marine Division, 41, 53, 197-99 
Russell Islands, 17, 24, 338, 351—56 
Russells Occupation Force, 352 
Ryneska, Maj. Joseph, 27m 
Ryu jo, 100 



Salamaua, 4, 10, 12—13, l 7? 20 * 34> 37 

Salt La fa City, 147 

Salt tablets, use in jungle, 70, 204 

Samoa, 2-3, 5-8, 22, 32, 40, 58, 120, 135 

San Cristobal, 17, 24, 82, 122, 137 

San Diego, Calif., Marine Base at, 27, 41, 54 

San Francisco, Calif., naval conference in, 19 

San Fraiicisco, 147, 181, 184-85, 192, 197 

San Francisco Port of Embarkation, 22 

San Juan, 169 

Sanitation, in Solomons, 43, 49—50, 223, 318. Sec 

also Disease, control of. 
Sano, Lt. Gen. Tadayoshi, 177, 244 
Santa Cruz, Battle of, 162, 167—69 
Santa Cruz Islands, 3, 9, 10—12, 15—17, 20, 27— 

28, 31, 40, ioi, 122, 139, 167, 172 
Santa Isabel, 24, 92, 351 

Saratoga, 34-35, 54, 86n, 100—01, 152, 170 
Savo Island, 25, 59-60, 78, 80, 101, no, 146-47, 

151, 181, 184-86 
Savo Island, Battle of, 80-81 
Scott, Rear Adm. Norman, 40, 142, 146—47, 181— 

84 

Scout bombers, 83. See also Dive bombefs. 
Scout platoons, 47 
Scouting, 294, 318 
Scouting Squadron D— 14, 33 
Scout-Sniper Detachment, 1st Marine Division, 
131, 160, 190 



Scouts, 47, in, 115, 249, 344-45 

Screening Group, Amphibious Force, 36, 39 

Screening Force, 78—79 

Sea Horse, 281—90, 294-95, 2 9&> 3°5» 34 on 

Seabees. See Naval construction battalions. 

Sealark Channel, 25, 25^ 44, 60-61, 79-80, 104, 
110, 122—23, 142, 147, 149—51, 155, 162, 
177, 181, 183, 185, 213, 310, 320, 323 

Seaplane tenders, 104 

Search planes, 147, 185 

Searchlights, 80, 90, 107 

Sebree, Brig, Gen. Edmund B., CG Americal Di- 
vision, ig6n, 197, 199, 202—03, 205—06, 217- 
18, 240, 247, 296n, 342, 346 
Security detachments, 89 
Segilau River, 30, 346n 
Service Battalion, 2d, 81 
Service batteries, 314 
Service Company, 164th Infantry, 164 
Service ships, 142 
Service troops, 47, 52, 219, 225 
Seventeenth Army. See Japanese Units. 
Sewall, Lt. CoL Alexander R., 238 
Shipping, 12—13, 24, 1 88. See also Logistics; 
Supply. 

bombardment of, 220—21 

Japanese, 85 

shortages of, 47-48, ioi, 217, 223-25 
Ship-to-shore operations, 71, 354 
Shoes, for jungle warfare, 317 
Shoji, Col. Toshinari, 160-61, 164, 196, 200 
Shore defenses, 69 

Shore-to-shore operations, 199, 223, 320, 343—44, 

348-49, 354 
Shortages, 220 

artillery, i74n 

entrenching tools, 251 

gasoline, 104, 149-51, 155, i73~74> i79~8o 
manpower, 105 

shipping, 47-48> 101. 21 7i 223-25 

water in jungle, 270-71, 274, 276 

weapons, 105 
Shortland Islands, 81, 122, 138, 231, 351 
Shovels, power, 83 
Signal Companies 

26th, 215 

43^, 354-55 
Signal flags, 129 
Signal troops, 47 

Sims, Col. Amor L., CO 7th Marines, 197 
Sims, Lt. Weldon, 274 



410 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Sims Ridge* 265, 271, 273-76 
Skin infections, in jungle, 141 
Slit trenches, 89 
"Slot," the, 78, 146, 185, 349 
Small arms. See also PistoU; Rifles; Submachine 
guns. 

American, 307 

Japanese, 279, 304 
Small arms fire 

American, 206—08, 240 

Japanese, 241, 249, 332 
Smith, 169 

Smoke, tactical employment, 62a, 264, 268, 27on, 

290, 309 
"Snake,' 1 the, 323-27 
Snipers. See also Riflemen. 

American, 318 

Japanese, 249, 251, 318 
Society Islands, 3 
Solace, 31—32 

Solomon Islands, 44, 78, 86, 100-01, 122, 137-39, 
152, 154, 180, 186, 313, 336-38, 350-5 1 
air patrol over, 33 
Allied air strength in, 220 
anchorages in, 5-7, 25, 179, 223 
character of casualties in, 210 
climate and terrain, 24—25, 43-44, 141, 306—07 
included in SWPA, 2 
initial landings in, 61—70 
Japanese occupation of, 4-8, 20, 29-30 
plans for invasion, 9, 10-13, 14, 16-19, 25-43, 

82, 140-41 
water supply, 270-71 
Solornon's Island, Md„ landing exercises at, 40 
Sound-and-flash units, 89—90, 148 
South China Sea, 2 
South Dakota, 152, 167-69, 186-88 
South Pacific Amphibious Force, 12, 17-20, 28- 

29, 34, 40-47. Mi> 223 
South Pacific Area, 2-4, ro-12, 14-19, 22, 24-28, 
31-32, 80, 82-83, 85-86, 99, 101, 122, 139- 
40, 152, 167, 170-73, 175, 180, 185-86, 
212-14, 218-20, 22on, 222-23, 227, 336, 
348, 351-52 
South Pacific Force, 14, 19, 27 
Southard, 142 
Southeast Pacific Area, 2 
Southeastern Fleet, 7, 137, 338 
Southwest Pacific Air Forces, 31, 33, 180 
Southwest Pacific Area, 2-4, 9-12, 15-17, 27, 29, 
34~35> 54-55* ">i, 108, 146, 152, 167, 1S6, 



17211, 212, 220 

Southwest Pacific Forces, 15—16 

Soviet Union, support for, 1 

Special Naval Landing Forces, 12, 30, 93, 139, 

228, 350 
Special weapons battalions, 54, 70 
Special Weapons Battalion, 1st, 54, 89, 125, 143- 

44 

Special Weapons Battery, nth Marines, 116 
Special weapons troops, 47, 165 
Spotting planes, 131 

Spragins, Brig. Gen. Robert L., C of S XIV Corps, 
2r8, 326 

Springfield rifles, 307 

St. George's Channel, 4, 78 

Staging areas, 351 

Staging bases, 140 

Sterrett, 185, 192, 197 

Storage, shortages of, 223-25 

Storage tanks, gasoline, 221 

Strategy, 82, See also Tactics. 

decisions for Pacific operations, 1-21 
decision on Ndeni operation, 139—41 
Japanese, 137—39 

Strength. See Troop strength. 

Strip maps, 45 

Submachine guns, 307 

Submarines 

American, 35, 38-39, 80, 167, 172, 172a, 179 
Japanese, 101, 105, 144, 189, 230, 232, 351-52 

Suemura, Col. Masaichi, 228 

Sumiyoshi, Maj. Gen. Tadashi, 153, 156, 157-60, 
i6on, 166 

Sunlight Channel, 355 

Supply, 39, 57-58, 75-81, 83, 101-04, no, 125, 
142, 180, 183, 220, 223-25, 243, 298, 319, 
352-56 
airborne, 85, 87, 288-89 
amphibious, 192 

by hand-carrying, 198, 204, 206, 225, 229, 237- 
38, 240, 254, 262, 283, 288-89, 292, 314, 
320, 323 

by landing craft, 333 

by native carriers, 288 

for air operations, 108 

Japanese, 154-55, J 86, 188, 202, 209n, 229-30, 

237, 244, 283, 286, 348 
landing of, 104, 204, 344 
loading of, 48-50, 344, 354 
medical, 240 

of forward elements in jungle, 240 



INDEX 



4 II 



Supply — Continued 
of gasoline, 149-51 
plans for, 28, 31, 45-50 

problems of, 47-50, 83-86, 123, 254, 258-60, 

313-171 355 
responsibility for, 213 
shortages of, 105 

water, 270-71, 27m, 272n, 274, 276 
Supply depots 

American, 103 

Japanese, 59 
Supply dumps 

American, 103, 225, 313, 346 

Japanese, 155 
Supply routes, 146, 206, 253, 283, 288, 319, 327 
Supply ships, 167 

Support. See Air support; Artillery support; Naval 

fire support. 
Support Group, 1st Marine Division, 49, 52, 54 
Supreme Commander, SWPA. See MacArthur, 

Gen. Douglas. 
Sydney, Australia, 43 

Tactics, 71, 75, 230—33. See also Strategy. 

in air warfare, 108—09 

in Guadalcanal fighting, 306—07 

Japanese, 152-56, 311-13 

planning for, 32-34, 43, 45, 50-54, 309, 354 
Taivu Point, 30, 39, 93, 95, 1 12-14, 120 
Tambalego River, 346, 346n 
Tananbogo, 50, 52-53, 61, 65-67, 75, in, 133 
Tank attacks, 133, 293n, 296n, 303—05, 309 
Tank battalions, 47 
Tank Battalion, 1st, 144 
Tank destroyers, 75, 89, 144, 157, 309 
Tank troops, 52 
Tankers, 34, 167 

Tank-infantry teams, 97, 293^ 296n, 303 
Tanks 

American, 53-54, 71—73. 75i 97, 118, 143, 
i57n, 279, 292-93, 303, 309 

Japanese, 156—57, i57n, 283^ 332 
Tapananja, 320 
Tasimboko, in— 12, 114 
Task Force 61, 28-31, 34, 35n, 40, 55, 79 
Task Force 62, 104 

Task Force 63, 28-33, 35» 59* 83-85 
Task Force 65, 122-23 

Task forces, 3, 9-12, 167, 175, 179, 215, 336 
Task One, SOP AC, 17-20, 33, 439 



Task Two, SWPA, 17, 20 

Task Three, SWPA, 17, 20 

Tassafaronga, 151, 1 88, 202, 20911, 342 

Tassafaronga Point, 341—42 

Teamwork, infantry-artillery, 318 

Telephone communication, 267^ 317, 355 

Telephone lines, 129 

Telephones, EE-8, 317 

Tenamba River, 348 

Tenaro, 348 

Tenaru, 30 

Tenaru River, 37, 51, 53, 67-70 
Tenavatu River, 37, 51, 53, 67—69 
Tentage, for troops, 123, 142 
Terrain, 89, 166 

Galloping Horse, 265—67 

Gifu strong point, 245, 292 

Guadalcanal, 319-20 

Hill 27, 247-50 

Kokumbona area, 322 

Lunga area, 154—56 

Matanikau area, 92, 143, 203 

Mount Austen, 233-37 

Poha River area, 340 

problems of, 311, 314, 325, 332 

Sea Horse, 281 

Solomon Islands, 25, 43—44, 306—07 
Tetere, 45* 196, 199 
Third Marine Brigade, 41 
Thirteenth Air Force, 218 
Thompson guns, 307 
Time-on-target fire, 238, 2380, 262-65 
Timor, 9, 12, 17, 138 
Titi, 343-45 
Tokyo, 135, 170 

"Tokyo Express,** 95, 146-47, 1 54*55, 1 77-79, 

214, 221, 230-31, 232, 338, 348 
Tongan Islands, 3 

Tongatabu, 22, 31, 32, 101, 142, 174 

Tonolei, 86, 179-80 

Torpedo boat squadrons, 142 

Torpedo boats, 38, 172, 185, 310, 35i~53 

Torpedo bombers, 148, 172, 174, 221 

Torpedoes, 80, 101, 147, 184 

Townsville, Australia, 8, 45 

Tractors, amphibian, 57-58, 70, 75, 103, 115, 133 
144 

Tractors, Japanese, 342 
Tracy, 123 
Trailers, 260 



412 



GUADALCANAL: THE FIRST OFFENSIVE 



Training 

in jungle warfare, 31 1, 317-16 

in sanitation, 318 

in use of weapons, 318 
Transport divisions, 122 
Transport Groups 

X, 36-37* 39, 53, 57* 59, 69 

Y, 36-37* 39, 53, 57, 59 
Transport planes, 151 

Transportation, problems of, 254, 313-16. See 

also Logistics; Shipping; Supply. 
Transports 

American, 10, 13-14* i7 _I 9, 34, 37—38, 40, 
47-48» 55, 59-6i, 69, 75-61, iio, 122, 140, 
142, 146, 167, 172, 175, 179-83, 352-53 
Japanese, 85, 99-100, 137, 139, 147, 151, 155- 
56, 179, 183, 185-88, 196, 228, 230, 336-37 
Treasury Islands, 24 
Troop dispositions, 222-23, 228, 257 
Troop strength 

American, 52, 105, 125, 135, 142, 177, 180, 

209, 214-20, 232, 246, 254, 350 
Japanese, 44, 5°, 9<>-9i, 93~95, 1 12-14, "9» 
'37-39, 153, 156, 214, 227-29, 237, 254, 
257, 3io, 336-37, 337n, 348, 35i 
Trucks, 143, 198, 225, 313-14, 344-45 
bomb-handling, 85 
dump, 83, 238 

for evacuation of wounded, 314 
gas, 85, 235 

Japanese, 73, 103, 335, 342 
shortages of, 103 
^-ton, 142, 254 
J^-ton, 142 
1 -ton, 57, 70 
1 Vi -ton, 103, 142 
2^-ton, 70, 103, 260, 314 
4 -ton, 260 

Truk, 4-5, 9-10, 12-13, 20, 2m, 35, 95, ioo, 

137, 146, 169 
Tulagi, 5-7, 9, 13-21, 24-25, 25n, 27-30, 33- 

34, 36-39, 43-45, 50, 53-54, 55-57, 59-67, 
75, 78, 79j 81-82, 90, 103-04, 107, no— ii, 
115, 125, 137, 140, 142, 162, 185, 1 88, 197, 
213-14, 218, 223, 343 

Tulagi Fire Support Group, 36-38, 40, 53, 61, 67 

Tulagi Group, 1st Marine Division, 52, 54 

Tulagi Harbor, 5, 25, 125, 223 

Turner, Rear Adm. Richmond K., COMAMPHIB- 
FORSOPAC, 28, 4on, 41, 44, 65, 77-80, 103, 
107, 119-25, 172, 174-75, 181-83, 213, 220, 



343, 35i, 354-56 
biographical sketch, 35—36 
commander of Amphibious Force, 19, 29, 34, 55 
estimate of Japanese strength, 44 
plans for campaign, 35—40 
responsibility for line of communications, 104 
view on occupation of Ndeni, 140-41 
Tuttle, Col. W. B„ CO 147th Infantry, 142, 174- 

75, 223 

Twombley, Lt. Col. Bernard B M 204 

Umasani River, 336, 342-43, 346 

Uniforms, for jungle warfare, 316-17 

United States Army Forces in the South Pacific 

Area, 22, 82, 232 
United States Navy. See Navy, U. S. 
United States Pacific Fleet, 15, 29, 35, 167, 170 
Unit-loading, 217 

Units of fire, 31, 47, 58, 75, 81, 122, 142, 260, 

352, 355-56 
Unity of command, 10, 14 
Unloading, 83, 233. See also Landings. 

air protection for, 39 

Japanese, 188 

on Guadalcanal, 75-77, 122-25, 181-83 
on Russell Islands, 355 
on Tulagi, 79 
plans for, 39—40 

supplies and equipment, 57-58, 101—03, 151, 
204, 223-25, 344-45 

Vandegrift, Maj. Gen. Alexander A., CG 1st 
Marine Division, 53-54, 58, 65, 71-73, 77, 
79, 82-83, 87, 93, 101, 105, 107, no, in, 
115, 119-22, 125—26, 134, 141, 143—44, J 48, 
152, 154-55, 166, 170-72, 174-77, 189-90, 
199, 2 o 2 , 213, 217, 221, 232, 343 
biographical sketch, 40-41 
commander 1st Marine Division, 41 
organizes troops for combat, 45—48 
tactical plans, 50—51 
views on occupation of Ndeni, 103 
Vehicles, motor, 92, 103, 120, 122, 206, 225, 352. 

See also Trucks. 
Verahue, 343~45 
Verbal messages, 267, 295—96 
Vincennes, 37, 39, 78, 80 
Visale, 343 
Volinavua, 175 



INDEX 



413 



Vungana, 93 

Vurai, 320 

Vurai Blocks 32011 

Wake Island, 170 
"Walkie Talkie" 317 
War Department General Staff, 12, 255 
War in the Pacific, U. S. responsibility for, 1 
"Washingmachine Charley," See Nuisance At- 
tacks, Japanese planes. 
Washington, 186 
Wasp, 34, 54* 86n » 100-01 
WATCHTOWER Operation, 3 an 
Water 

equipment for purification, 48 
hand-carrying of, 240, 254 
priority for, 58 

problems of supply, 258-60, 27m, 272n, 289, 
355 

scarcity of, 70, 204, 21 a* 225, 270-71, 274, 276 
Weapons, 104, 165, 198, See also Machine guns; 
Rifles, etc. 
antiaircraft, 90 

automatic, 54, 107, 199, 206, 240, 244, 304 

for beach defense, 89 

for Russell Islands, 354 

heavy, 162, 268, 307, 327 

Japanese, 73, 97~99» "°*o t 186, 199* 240, 243-44, 

307» 313 
loading of, 48—49 



shortages of, 105 
training in use, 317-18 
transport problems, 25&-60 
types described, 307—09 
unloading of, 122-23, 151 
Weapons carriers, 260 

Wellington, New Zealand, io, 16, 28, 30-31, 36. 

41-50, 55 
Wellington Harbor, 48-49 
Wernham Cove, 354 
Whaling, Col. William J., 131, 203 
Whaling Group, 134, 190, 193-95 
Whitney, 31 

Wide envelopment, 155, 247, 261, 318 
Williams, Maj* Robert, 52 
Wilson, 78 

Wire communication, 317, 326, 355 
Withdrawals 

American, 79, 205 

Japanese, 165, 338, 349 
Wright, Lt, Col, William C. f 237, 239-40 
Wright Road, 240, 247, 258, 283, 292, 298 

Yamamoto, Admiral Isoroku, 177 

Yano Battalion, 33 8 n 

Yellow Beach, Russell Islands, 354-5 5 

Yorkjotvn, 170 

Young, Capt. Cassin, 184 



Zeilin, 36, 55, 59, 142, 181 



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MAP NO. XXI